Good news: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $5.67 million grant to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), money that will offset the cost incurred by the Port Authority of Allegheny County in purchasing battery-electric buses.
“We are quite fortunate in this community to have so many collaborations that benefit our region – and this announcement is no exception,” County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a press release issued Friday. “The application by the Health Department for this funding from the Targeted Airshed Grant (TAG) Program, and the award by the EPA, will go a long way in helping Port Authority continue to transition to a more environmentally-friendly bus fleet, leading to better air quality and a cleaner environment for our citizens and our region.”
The Port Authority is purchasing seven 60-foot articulated battery-electric buses and one electric charging station. The buses will be used in the operation of the Authority’s Downtown-Uptown-Oakland-Wilkinsburg Bus Rapid Transit corridor, which is expected to be in operation by the end of 2022.
“The Health Department is excited to help Port Authority transition to cleaner transportation in Allegheny County,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Health Department. “This is a small but important step toward cleaner air for all.”
The nearly $5.7 million grant represents the largest award to date by the EPA to Allegheny County under the Targeted Airshed Grant Program. In 2010, the EPA awarded the Health Department $2.9 million for pollution-reducing efforts in the industrial Mon Valley area through the Targeted Airshed Grant Program.
“Receiving this grant will help us put electric vehicles in densely-populated areas with high public transit ridership,” said Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman. “We are grateful to the Allegheny County Health Department for submitting this application on our behalf as we continue to move toward a more environmentally-friendly fleet.”
“We too are grateful to the ACHD for applying for this funding,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. “Reducing diesel emissions, a known carcinogen, in our communities is critically important to do.”
The EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grant (TAG) Program funds projects that benefit the environment by reducing carbon emissions in areas with historically poor air quality. The EPA selected the Health Department’s application through a competitive grant program.