Lipscomb’s Effort Sparks $1.7 Million in Grants for Battery Electric Buses
Milwaukee County to Begin Transition Away from Fossil Fuels
MILWAUKEE – The Federal Transportation Administration announced Wednesday that Milwaukee County will receive $1.7 million through its “Low or No-emission” grant program to help purchase four battery electric buses (BEBs) this year, part of a first wave that will begin the County’s transition away from fossil fuels.
The County’s transition to electric buses is consistent with last month’s action by the County Board to establish a City County Joint Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity.
Milwaukee County will use BEBs to service the new Bus Rapid Transit route, expected to begin operation in 2021.
County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., previously led the effort to modernize Milwaukee County’s transit system with a 2019 budget measure that authorized the purchase of up to 15 battery electric buses and set aside $5.1 million for the necessary infrastructure.
“This federal funding will help Milwaukee County modernize our fleet for the future and transition away from the fossil fuels of the past. Battery electric buses will cost Milwaukee County taxpayers less than diesel buses over their lifetime, avoid price volatility of diesel fuel, and promote a clean environment,” said Lipscomb.
In contrast to the more stable price of electricity, the fluctuation in diesel prices is expensive for Milwaukee County. A one penny increase in diesel prices over one year costs the county $40,000 in added fuel costs. A one dollar increase costs the county $4 million.
Lipscomb’s budget amendment ensured that each of the 11 buses to be purchased for the Bus Rapid Transit project will be clean electric buses. Four additional buses would be available for possible use on the Green, Red, or Purple bus routes.
Lipscomb first called on Milwaukee County to apply for the federal “Low-No” funds in 2018, and expressed his thanks to those staff involved in making this effort successful.