Feds award grant to IT

Money will fund 10 new propane buses

Ten new propane-powered buses will join the Island Transit fleet next year, thanks to a federal grant announced Friday.

The new paratransit buses will replace 10 existing gas-powered buses, resulting in lower operational and maintenance costs, fossil fuel consumption and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, said Mike Nortier, executive director.

“This shift toward alternative fuels is a reflection of Island Transit’s commitment to transform the entire fleet to more environmentally friendly fuel options,” he said. “This award brings Island Transit more closely in alignment with federal and state on-going efforts to promote energy efficiency and sustainability in transportation.”

Island Transit was awarded $940,430 in federal funds, one of six Washington transit agencies to be awarded a grant through the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facilities Grant Program.

The fare-free transit system currently has 15 paratransit buses available on Whidbey and Camano islands, Nortier said.

In total, $12 million was allocated in funds which help transit agencies make capital investments and improve transit options for workers, students and families, according to a joint press release from U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

“These new grants are welcome news to Washington commuters and will pave the way for new jobs and economic growth throughout the state,” Cantwell stated. “Continued investments in our transit services are critical as more and more Washingtonians turn to public transportation to avoid spending too much time on the road.”

The fare-free Island Transit system currently has 15 paratransit buses available to provide services on Whidbey and Camano islands.

“We will be acquiring our first propane vehicles over the next 6-9 months,” Nortier said. “These vehicles will enter service in 2019 after acceptance and initial outfitting. “

Its larger buses are currently powered by bio-diesel.

Nortier recently announced he’s leaving the agency Oct. 26 after two and a half years in the driver’s seat.