Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins Announce Nearly $29 Million From Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law For The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority To Purchase 20 New 40-Foot Clean Electric Buses To Replace Dirty Diesel-Powered Buses And Expand Charging Infrastructure

Jun 21, 2023

After Delivering Historic Federal Funding To NFTA, Buffalo And WNY Will Now Get Major Boost To Purchase Game Changing 20 New Electric Buses To Help Reach Lower Emissions Goals

Reps Secure Highly Competitive Federal “Low & No Emission Grant” For NFTA To Accelerate Cleaner Air & Electrification Goals With New Buses And Charging Infrastructure

Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins: NFTA Just Got A Major Jolt To Supercharge New Electric Buses and Cleaner Air For Western New Yorkers!

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Brian Higgins today announced $28,947,368 in federal funding for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) to purchase 20 modern, cleaner electric buses and expand charging infrastructure for the fleet. The funding was provided through the highly competitive Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Low or No Emission Grant Program (Low-No), and is a direct result of transportation funding increases they secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.

“The NFTA just got a major boost to supercharge modern, new electric buses and a cleaner commute across Western NY. This nearly $29 million in federal funding, a direct results of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs law we led to passage, will allow the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to purchase 20 brand new electric buses and expand charging infrastructure, giving Western New Yorkers a cleaner commute, all while fueling our fight against climate change,” said Senator Schumer. “I personally wrote to Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to deliver this funding, and now as the wheels of the NFTA buses go round and round, pollution and carbon emissions will keep going down and down.  I am proud to deliver this major boost for the NFTA to keep the wheels of our economy rolling and put Buffalo on the path to a brighter and cleaner transportation future.”

“NFTA provides critical services to millions of riders in the Buffalo Region. This nearly $29 million in federal funding will help NFTA continue to provide fast, efficient service while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I am proud to have worked to secure this funding to make this innovative clean transit project a reality,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’ll keep working to make sure that New York State remains a leader in clean transportation and the fight against climate change.”

Congressman Higgins said, “This is an investment in a cleaner and healthier future for riders and the Buffalo-Niagara community.  This federal award to the NFTA continues to tip the scales in addressing environmental justice concerns and delivers lasting benefits to Western New York thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

“This investment will significantly accelerate NFTA’s Battery Electric Bus Deployment program,” said Kimberley Minkel, NFTA Executive Director. “I’m so thankful for the commitment and advocacy provided by Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Higgins.  This funding will help protect the environment by supporting NFTA’s mission of providing clean, safe and affordable transportation to our communities.”

Specifically, this funding will help the NFTA purchase an additional 20 new 40-foot Battery Electric Buses (BEB) to replace their current 2006 and 2007 Gillig series diesel-powered transit buses, upgrade the bus charging infrastructure at the NFTA’s Cold Spring Bus Maintenance Facility to power the new BEBs as they enter the NFTA’s fleet, and complete the electric grid updates needed to charge up to 100 BEBs at Cold Spring, setting the stage to make the Cold Spring garage entirely battery electric vehicles. According to the NFTA, this project will result in an overall reduction of  2.753 short tons of CO and 1,379.5 short tons of CO2 over the life of the 20 new BEBs which will operate out of the Cold Spring Bus Maintenance Facility. These upgrades will reduce the NFTA’s total diesel fuel consumption and help the organization take further steps towards becoming a leader in clean, environmentally sustainable public transportation technology, which along with other strategic NFTA initiatives, will continue to improve air quality across the Buffalo Niagara region. This project will not only help the NFTA reduce its reliance on fossil fuels needed to power its transit bus fleet, but also save the NFTA an estimated $440,942 per year in diesel costs. Additionally, the new 40-foot battery-powered electric transit buses can achieve a fuel economy about three times greater than the current Gillig diesel-powered transit buses to be replaced as part of this project. This improved fuel economy will minimize the recharging needs of the new electric buses and reduce the overall impact of bus charging on the local electrical grid.

Schumer, Gillibrand, and Higgins have a long history of delivering federal funding to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. In March 2022, the representatives visited the NFTA’s DL&W Terminal to announce that they secured over $10 million for long desired community projects to transform the landscape of transportation in Buffalo, including $1,760,000 for the NFTA Electric Bus Charging Infrastructure. This is on top of more than $162 million in transit formula funds, over the next five years, for the NFTA the secured in 2021’s bipartisan Infrastructure law.

In 2019, Schumer, Gillibrand and Higgins successfully delivered $2.5 million in federal funding to the NFTA for new electric buses and the necessary charging infrastructure after directly writing to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Just one year earlier, the senators once secured $11 million for the NFTA to purchase modern and less-polluting Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses after personally advocating in support of the NFTA’s application to the DOT.

The DOT’s Low-No Program awards capital investment grants for the acquisition of low- or zero-emission buses.  This program finances the acquisition of buses, ancillary equipment, and the construction of bus facilities, like maintenance facilities, garages, storage areas and bus terminals. The funding appropriated for the bus capital program is fully allocated to projects designated by Congress.