WTA receives $2.8M grant to buy five diesel-electric hybrid buses

Whatcom Transportation Authority has received a $2.82 million grant to buy five diesel-electric hybrid buses, which should hit streets in late 2012.

The Federal Transit Administration recently awarded WTA funds from a competitive grant program. With the funding, WTA will replace old 40-foot buses with new 40-foot hybrids.

“It’s something that we have wanted to do for a long time,” said Maureen McCarthy, WTA spokeswoman. “It’s in our mission. We’ve acknoweledged that the community has wanted us to do it for some time.”

It’s just been cost prohibitive, she said.

“This is big news for us to be able to jump into the alternative fuels world,” she said.

The five hybrids are expected to save about 11,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, reducing agency costs and pollution. The buses will cost the agency more upfront, however. They’ll have to match the federal grant with about $578,000 in local funds.

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