MetroLINK will get $6 million in new Illinois funding, to purchase zero-emission buses, as part of $113.8 million in Rebuild Illinois funds announced Tuesday by Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The funding brings the total investment in downstate transit via competitive grants to $337.8 million, supporting the Governor’s mission to create economic opportunity by improving all modes of transportation while boosting safety and efficiency, according to a release from Pritzker’s office.
“I’m proud to announce the third round of Rebuild Illinois projects — 32 downstate transit partners both rural and urban — who will receive a total investment of nearly $114 million,” said Gov. Pritzker said in the release. “This third round of grants will increase transportation options and create more good-paying jobs across downstate Illinois. Collectively under my administration, we’ve invested billions of dollars to revitalize downstate communities, more than any administration in Illinois history.”
The projects provide more transportation options in downstate communities and promote an enhanced quality of life.
“These awards to our transit systems will strengthen our status as a national leader in providing cost-effective public transportation that’s safe and accessible to everyone in our state,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Through Rebuild Illinois, Gov. Pritzker and IDOT continue to improve the state’s transportation system by seeking out the best projects and getting our partners at the local level the resources they need to deliver them.”
A total of 32 transit systems are getting grants to advance 44 projects, including $6 million for Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK) to replace six buses with zero-emission buses, the release said.
“Thanks to Governor Pritzker and the IDOT team, the most recent Rebuild Illinois grant award will allow us to further develop our battery electric bus fleet through the purchase of six additional battery electric buses,” MetroLINK spokeswoman Jennifer Hirsch said Tuesday morning.
“Since 2018, our battery electric bus program has continued to expand, with 30% of our fleet currently consisting of battery electric bus vehicles,” she said. “These types of investments reinforce our commitment to grow our community through an environmentally conscious and equitable public transportation network.”
“Infrastructure investments are vital to expanding downstate transportation needs,” said State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “We have seen remarkable improvements through the Rebuild Illinois capital program. Expanding Decatur’s transit campus, buying additional buses and installing solar panels on the bus barn will increase accessibility for residents to get around town.”
The first two rounds of downstate transit grants went to projects including the renovated transit facility and passenger information kiosks for the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, a new transportation center in downtown Bloomington and a new building to serve as a headquarters, training facility and dispatch center for the West Central Mass Transit District in Jacksonville.
MetroLINK’s average cost of $1 million per new electric bus not only includes the vehicle itself, but batteries, charging interface, cameras, passenger announcement system, signage, driver assist technologies, driver enhancements, etc., Hirsch said.
Passed in 2019, Rebuild Illinois is investing a total of $33.2 billion over six years into the state’s aging transportation system, creating jobs and promoting economic growth. Rebuild Illinois is not only the largest capital program in state history, but also the first that touches all modes of transportation: roads and bridges, transit, waterways, freight and passenger rail, aviation, and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, the release said.