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CATS Gets Federal Grant To Buy Its First Electric Buses

Charlotte Area Transit System is finally getting its first electric buses. A federal grant announced earlier this month will help CATS start to replace the heavier polluting diesel buses it now uses. 

City Manager Marcus Jones mentioned the grant in passing during a discussion of federal COVID-19 relief funding at the June 22 City Council meeting. 

Jones told the council the city received a $3.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to add "five or six" electric buses to CATS' fleet of 300 diesel and hybrid diesel-electric buses. 

The money is part of $130 million in grants to cities across the country. Greenville, South Carolina, also got $5.3 million in this year's round of funding. The money pays to buy or lease zero-emission or low-emission buses and as well as charging stations or other infrastructure.  

CATS CEO John Lewis has been skeptical of electric bus technology in the past, although the city has a goal of eliminating carbon emissions in all its vehicles. Last year, after environmentalists questioned his plan to continue buying diesel buses, Lewis announced plans to buy more hybrids. 

It wasn't clear when CATS might by the buses or which company might supply them. 

A CATS spokeswoman confirmed the grant, but said she had no details to share. 

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.