Using federal money that was allocated in the last transportation budget, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced Wednesday that it will direct $15 million to local transit authorities across the state to purchase 41 clean fuel buses. ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris made the announcement during a rain-soaked press conference at the department's Columbus headquarters that featured one of the buses already purchased by the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). She said she hopes it will be just the first investment in cleaner technology by the department.
COTA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Lhota said the two buses purchased with ODOT funds will join with $2.1 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program funds to bring the transit authority's fleet up to six hybrid diesel buses. The hybrid buses featured a battery-powered electric motor and a diesel-fueled combustion engine. The 40-foot bus seats up to 39 passengers or up to 83 with standees. At a cost of $573,620 each, they are more expensive than the standard low-sulfur diesel buses that cost $341,141 each. Lhota said the hybrids are expected to last about 12 years, the same amount of time as a regular bus.
Still, Lhota and Pat Stephens, the vice president of operations, said that they will run the hybrid buses on heavily traveled routes with numerous stops along with the regular diesel buses and collect data on the performance of the vehicles to demonstrate what kind of benefit the buses have for COTA. ODOT said it received nearly $33 million in applications from local and regional transit authorities across the state.
Receiving funds are: • Akron Regional Transit Authority ($2 million) - four hybrid electric/diesel 40 ft. buses • Central Ohio Transit Authority ($1.2 million) - two hybrid electric/diesel 40 ft. buses • Clermont Transportation Connection ($750,000) - two diesel 40 ft. buses • Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority ($2.3 million) - four hybrid electric/diesel 40 ft. buses • Miami County Public Transit ($150,000) - two diesel light transit vehicles • Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority ($375,000) - five diesel light transit vehicles • Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority ($1.9 million) - three hybrid electric/diesel 40 ft. buses • Springfield City Area Transit ($684,320) - four hybrid electric/diesel 30 ft. buses • Stark Area Regional Transit Authority ($2.3 million) - six biodiesel 30-35 ft. buses • Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority ($3.3 million) - eight biodiesel 30-35 ft. buses • Washington County/CABL ($75,000) - one diesel 30 ft. bus