This story has been updated with comment from an RTC spokesperson on how the funding will be spent.
U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto on Wednesday announced that nearly $6.5 million in federal grant funding for which she fought to support clean transportation will go to the Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to help pay for the purchase and operation of low- and no-emissions buses.
In addition to calling for appropriations for clean bus funding, Cortez Masto also sent a letter of support for the Washoe RTC grant application to the Department of Transportation in April of 2021.
Cortez Masto has consistently promoted clean transportation plans like Washoe County’s as part of her Innovation State Initiative, which encourages clean energy, reliable and safe transportation and workforce development to help workers find good-paying jobs.
“I pushed for this federal grant funding for clean energy bus routes in Washoe County because it helps increase bus ridership, trains RTC employees in using cutting-edge technologies, and reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. “These 21st-century transportation solutions will get Nevadans where they want to go more efficiently and improve our air quality, and I’ll continue to push so that the Silver State gets the federal dollars to support them.”
According to Michael Moreno, spokesperson for the RTC, the new grant funding will be used to purchase two hydrogen fuel cell buses and build a hydrogen fuel site. The new buses are estimated to arrive in two years, though that’s contingent upon when the grant funding is received and how long it takes for the manufacture and delivery of the buses.
The RTC announced in February that it was purchasing an additional 19 new buses for its fleet—also using federal funds.
Seventeen of the 19 new buses are New Flyer Hybrid electric/biodiesel buses, and two buses are Proterra electric buses.
Moreno said the RTC will also be receiving 12 hybrid electric-diesel buses in September and October of this year. That will make the fleet 33% entirely electric and 67% hybrid electric-diesel.
The two Proterra all-electric buses started running on the RTC’s extended RAPID Virginia Line when it launched in early March.
The new buses purchased in recent months have been replacing aging, end-of-life vehicles.
The RTC’s goal has long been to have an all-alternative-fuel fleet by 2035. Washoe RTC was the first public transit in the state to have electric buses after purchasing four in 2014.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.