The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded a $1,206,518 grant to Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO) on April 6. METRO will use the money to purchase four new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, replacing some of the older vehicles.

“An application is awarded based on the condition of your fleet, and we have so many buses — beyond 60 buses — that are beyond their useful life that need to be replaced,” said METRO grants and legal analyst Tom Hiltner. “[…] Our fleet is in bad shape.”

METRO will use $671,000 of its local funds and $535,000 from the supplementary state transit assistance program, both fostered by Senate Bill 1, to match the $1.2 million grant. The combined total of approximately $2.4 million will go toward purchasing the four new CNG buses.

Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act 2017, raised gas and diesel prices throughout California by $0.12 and $0.20 per gallon respectively to generate revenue to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and direct more dollars toward transit.

METRO is currently applying for more grants and has more applications circulating for CNG and battery-electric bus replacement funding.