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Press Release

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June 26,2023

Accelerating East Bay Sustainable Transit, Building Zero Emission Bus University & Empowering Next Generation Workers

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) achieved a significant milestone by being awarded $25.5 million through the Federal Transit Administration's prestigious 2023 Bus and Low-and No-Emission Grant Awards (Low-No Grant).

This remarkable achievement reinforces AC Transit's commitment to environmental stewardship, as the FTA aims to support projects that tangibly demonstrate building a greener and more sustainable future for public transportation.

"The recognition and financial support received through the Low-No Grant is a testament to AC Transit's two-decades-long dedication to reducing our carbon footprint. As of this year, we operate an industry-leading zero emission fleet of 58 battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses," says AC Transit Board President Joel Young. "Our premier ZEB fleet is possible through the talents of our mechanical maintenance team, who literally wrote the book for ZEB maintenance; our in-house training manual is now used around the globe."

The Low-No Grant paves the way for AC Transit to actualize its plan of purchasing an additional 25 state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell buses totaling $40.0 million. The federal award dedicates $8.3 million toward these advanced clean energy bus purchases and augments regional awards totaling $23.7 million.

"While AC Transit celebrates the successful acquisition of the 2023 Low or No Emission Grant Program, there is still a financial hurdle to overcome," says General Manager Michael Hursh. "In order to fully complete the project, our transit district must secure an additional $8.0 million in funding: this funding gap highlights the challenges faced by public transportation agencies in implementing ambitious initiatives that promote sustainability and innovation."

Although acquiring advanced vehicles and technologies may present funding challenges, the FTA lauded AC Transit's long-term plans of transitioning the more than 40-year-old Training and Education Center into a 21st-century learning lab the transit district calls: Zero Emission Bus University.

"ZEB U" will be a campus of multi-purpose maintenance bays equipped with computers, advanced hardware and software diagnostics, and the high-tech tools needed to service complex ZEB propulsion systems. The platforms will allow trainers and students to have rooftop access to core ZEB components, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), hydrogen fuel cell tanks, Lithium-Ion batteries, and energy storage systems.

ZEB U will also feature immersive and interactive augmented reality classrooms. Augmented reality overlays digital content onto the real world, allowing employees to visualize and interact with virtual objects and scenarios in real-time. This technology enables AC Transit to simulate various operational situations, vehicle maintenance procedures, and emergency scenarios, providing a safe and controlled environment for hands-on learning.

The transition to ZEB U carries an overall cost of $18.0 million. Fortunately, the Low-No award provides a significant boost that will cover $16.0 million of the design and construction costs. AC Transit will diligently pursue opportunities to secure the remaining $2.0 million, leveraging its dedication to sustainability and the demonstrated benefits of a modernized Training and Education Center.

The FTA also recognized AC Transit's prioritization of investing in its existing workforce. As such, $1.3 million is specifically designated for workforce development. Despite its age, AC Transit's existing Training and Education Center focuses on equipping frontline employees with the skills and knowledge required to effectively operate and maintain low or zero-emission vehicles, as well as adapt to evolving technologies in the transit industry. This award permits the transit district to enhance training programs, create new professional development, and expand our mentorship programs.

AC Transit anticipates adding the new coaches to revenue service and completing Zero Emission Bus University in 2026.

This award is made possible through the invaluable support of federal and regional thought leaders, United States Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, United States Representatives Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Ro Khanna, and John Garamendi. Governor Gavin Newsom's Office of Business and Economic Development and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission also played instrumental roles in championing AC Transit's proposal.

Additional guidance and support from the California Department of Transportation, California Air Resources Board, the City of Hayward, CA, the Hayward Chamber of Commerce, and Hayward Promise Neighborhood further strengthened AC Transit's bid for this prestigious award.

By joining forces with these influential stakeholders, AC Transit reinforces its position as a transit vanguard and demonstrates the power of collaboration in achieving a sustainable and environmentally conscious future.