The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) has been awarded $24.4 million from the California State Transportation Agency to purchase 29 electric busses.

A major portion of the funding will be used to procure 13, 60-foot articulated electric buses for local transit service, and another 16 for commuter services. The AVTA will use the 13 articulated electric buses on its Route 1 line in preparation for future “Bus Rapid Service” along the corridor which connects Lancaster to Palmdale. The 16 electric commuter coaches will provide service to routes reaching the San Fernando Valley and Downtown Los Angeles. These latter regions are said to service disadvantaged communities which have been allocated a larger share of Cap and Trade funds.

California’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) has so far distributed $224 million to 14 transportation projects statewide. TIRCP is a Cap and Trade program which received annual funding for projects that support high-quality public transportation, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. More than 30 applicants applied for the funding with a sum total request of about $450 million; AVTA’s project, priced at $40 million, includes $15 million in matching funds.

“We knew the AVTA could make this happen, and today we should all be very proud of the board’s vision [for] the future which will soon be a reality for valley residents,” said Marvin Crist, AVTA chairman. “The task of converting a large portion of the diesel fleet to an electric fleet is daunting, but one the agency is clearly ready to undertake. It is an effort that is strongly supported by the entire board.”

AVTA’s grant application was reportedly competitive, in part, because it proposed servicing communities that have been identified as disadvantaged due to air pollution. The electrified commuter routes will also serve as a major pilot program for the state because electric commuter coaches are still new to the transit industry. The demonstration project is expected to provide data with regard to long-distance, battery-powered electric bus technology that may be applied later to long-distance trucking.

Charging infrastructure is another component of the project which will include hard-wire stations for up to 80 buses, as well as four wireless charging stations at a cost of about $11 million. The wireless charging stations will be located at AVTA’s two main transfer centers and at two additional locations that have yet to be determined. AVTA’s project also identifies $1.4 million for research and development of a more powerful wireless charging system which, though unavailable today, is expected by transit officials to come on line in the next few years.

“We’re excited to have been able to help AVTA bring this project forward so that decision-makers in Sacramento would not overlook our small transit agency, but rather would see the vision it has been working so hard to realize,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale). “AVTA is on the cutting edge of new technology, and its ground-breaking efforts will translate into improved transit service, cleaner air, and more jobs for Antelope Valley residents.”