Rock Island MetroLINK gets eco-friendly with FTA funding award

$787 million goes to 255 public transit initiatives

A $2.16 million federal grant will help Rock Island County’s bus service become greener.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded $787 million in federal funding to modernize and replace transit facilities and vehicles throughout the country. In his announcement in July, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said the money is to fund 255 projects in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

In Illinois, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit will use the grant money to purchase five new MetroLINK transit buses that run on eco-friendly fuels. Spokeswoman Jennifer Garrity says 70 percent of the MetroLINK fleet, about 40 buses, run on compressed natural gas, with seven more recently delivered. According to Garrity this leaves only 15 diesel-powered buses in the fleet. MetroLINK began using compressed natural gas buses in 2002 and has made the use of sustainable energy a core value of the organization. The new buses will be compressed natural gas vehicles or another form of green technology yet to be determined.

“The technology is ever-evolving,” she says. “The diesel-powered buses that remain in the fleet are fueled with high-octane fuel that burns cleaner than regular diesel fuel.”

“By investing in the transit infrastructure people depend on to get where we need to go each day,” LaHood said in his announcement of the funding. “We will keep our economy moving forward well into the future.” BR