APTA Award

DEQ Awards Grant to Mountain Line to Replace Diesel Transit Buses with Energy-Efficient Models

Grant Comes from Montana’s Share of Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Settlement

HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has awarded a $1 million grant to Mountain Line in Missoula to purchase two electric public transit buses and charging stations. Mountain Line is Missoula’s community bus service operated by the Missoula Urban Transportation District (MUTD).

The two buses funded through the grant will join Mountain Line’s current fleet for a total of eight electric buses. Transitioning to electric buses helps reach the goal of eliminating tailpipe emissions from the transportation district’s fleet by 2035.

“Clean air is important to the health of everyone in our community”, said MUTD Board Chair, Jesse Dodson. “As Mountain Line continues converting its fleet to cleaner vehicles with DEQ's support, it is taking action to protect our valley's air quality long into the future. This is truly a win-win for our community and state.”

Missoula Mayor John Engen added, "I can’t think of a better way to put money designated for improving our environment than an investment in Missoula’s Mountain Line. Clean buses, providing essential transportation for any Missoulian at no cost to the passenger, has proven to be a great equalizer and, in some cases, a lifesaver for our low-income neighbors, friends and family members."

DEQ issued a call for grant applications in January of 2019. The grant is the first under the new Montana Clean Transportation Program that will distribute Montana’s $12.6 million share of the national Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Settlement funds.

In 2016, the United States settled claims against Volkswagen concerning the use of devices installed in certain VW diesel cars sold between 2009-2016 that were intended to defeat emissions tests. These devices allowed the vehicles to emit up to 40 times the level of nitrogen oxide pollution allowed under the Clean Air Act. Replacing diesel vehicles with electric and alternative fuel options not only reduces nitrogen oxide emissions, but has the added benefit of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the transportation sector.

“The Montana Clean Transportation Program was created to help lower emissions and improve air quality statewide,” said DEQ Director Shaun McGrath. “DEQ looks forward to continuing to support communities through grants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions for healthier air.”

DEQ is opening a new grant and accepting applications for its Clean Transit Bus program. The purpose is to replace community transit buses with clean battery electric and alternative fuel buses. The grant applications will be reviewed on a regular basis through April 1, 2021, or as long as funding remains available. Total available funding for transit bus replacements is $3.6 million. The first application deadline is July 1, 2020.

For more information on the available grants, visit DEQ’s website at: https://deq.mt.gov/Energy/transportation/VW-Settlement-Page

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About DEQ:

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is charged with protecting a clean and healthy environment as guaranteed by our State Constitution. Our ultimate goal is to protect public health and to maintain Montana's high quality of life for current and future generations. For more information about DEQ programs, visit: deq.mt.gov

About Mountain Line:

In 2020, Mountain Line committed to a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035. This commitment solidified Mountain Line’s long-standing commitment to clean air, public health and a more sustainable future. Mountain Line became a Zero-fare system in 2015, made possible through partnerships with local government, businesses and nonprofits. Since the debut of Zero-fare, ridership has increased 70 percent. Mountain Line now provides more than 1.5 million rides annually, helping students get to school, employees get to work, and helping seniors and people with disabilities stay active, mobile and independent. By reducing the number of single vehicles on the road, lessening traffic congestion and investing in electric buses, Mountain Line benefits us all.