Officials at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District got a nice surprise Tuesday: word that they were one of five bus systems in Illinois to win a Federal Transit Administration Clean Fuels grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation.
"We did not apply for this grant. IDOT applied for it, and we're one of the recipients," said Bill Volk, managing director of the Champaign-Urbana MTD. "This is a discretionary, competitive grant."
It was unclear Tuesday how many buses the local MTD would receive out of the allocation to Illinois. IDOT said the $5 million grant would buy up to 10 hybrid buses for fleets in Champaign-Urbana, Peoria, Galesburg, Rock Island and Kankakee.
Volk said he believed Champaign-Urbana would get "two or three" of Illinois' allocation.
The MTD already is scheduled to get 13 new 40-foot hybrid buses in the next two months, in addition to 23 already on the streets. Within 18 months, Volk said, about half of the MTD's 99-bus fleet would be made up of hybrid buses.
"This is another step toward replacing our aging fleet and coming up with a hybrid system that is quieter, saves on fuel costs and has cleaner emissions," Volk said. "We are very happy with this announcement."