Rock Region METRO awarded $3.1 million for 5 nat gas buses, bus simulator

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 27 views 

Rock Region METRO was awarded $3,149,677 – its third largest competitive grant award to date – in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds to purchase up to five 35-foot compressed natural gas buses and a bus simulator for use in workforce development.

The funds are part of the FTA’s Low- or No-Emission Grant program.

This is the fifth FTA competitive grant Rock Region METRO has received since its first grant in 2016. This award will contribute to METRO’s ongoing efforts to sustain a diverse, more environmentally friendly fleet as well as bring significant innovation to its operator workforce development program.

Rock Region METRO has selected Gillig and FAAC, respectively, to purchase the buses and the bus simulator.

“We are excited to receive this award, ensuring our fleet is kept in safe, good, more sustainable condition,” said Justin Avery, Rock Region METRO chief executive officer. “We are appreciative of the FTA’s focus on aiding public transit agencies with innovative bus technology that helps the industry attract and retain operators and look forward to implementing the bus simulator in driver training.”

The bus simulator will be housed in the METRO training headquarters at 901 Maple St., North Little Rock and features an enclosed cab with an operator seat and front dash console, along with typical bus cab equipment such as a steering wheel, mirrors, turn signals, headlights, a radio and pedals.

It also features a 340-degree field of view and eight visual displays, along with motion feedback, to simulate a bus driving experience within various scenarios.

The incoming five 35-foot CNG buses allow Arkansas’ largest public transit agency to keep its fleet in a safe, sustainable state of good repair.

A total of 117 projects across the country were awarded a share of $1.5 billion in funding through the 2024 FTA Low- or No-Emission Grant program.

“Today, 117 communities, including Central Arkansas, are receiving the good news that their transit buses are being modernized and their commutes improved through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris Administration is helping agencies across 47 states replace old buses running on dirty, expensive fuels by delivering modern and zero-emission buses, manufactured by American workers, that will connect more people to where they need to go.”

Although Arkansas’ Congressional delegation voted against the president’s infrastructure law, the grant was supported by U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock. Metroplan Executive Director Casey Covington and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott also supported the grant request, according to a press release.