Durbin Visit Bloomington-Normal Connect Transit to Celebrate 15.8 Million in Federal Funding For Electric Vehicles

NORMAL – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Connect Transit, the Bloomington-Normal Transit Agency, to celebrate the $15.8 million in federal funding they received from the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) omnibus appropriations bill and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to help convert the agency’s transit fleet to electric vehicles. With this earmark and grant funding, more than 50 percent of Connect Transit’s fleet will be electric by 2024. 

“The green technology that is advancing rapidly has tremendous upsides in reducing emissions, slowing the impact of climate change, and providing healthier public transit options,” said Durbin. “I’m grateful Connect Transit has made this transition a priority, allowing Illinois to continue leading in the electric vehicle future. Replacing aging bus fleets with zero emission options is necessary for our environment, and I’ll keep advocating for more federal funding to ensure every transit agency across Illinois can make this much-needed upgrade.”

“This investment grows our economy, increases sustainable jobs, and keeps our communities connected,” said Representative Eric Sorensen (IL-17). “Expanding sustainable public transit ensures working families in the greater Bloomington-Normal community have the resources they need to be successful both today and for generations to come. I want to thank Senator Durbin and those at Connect Transit for working diligently to secure this funding that will make a real difference in the lives of Illinois’ working families.” 

Senator Durbin continues to take the initiative to improve the quality of life through public transportation. On behalf of our riders and community, we truly appreciate his efforts and continued support of Connect Transit,” said Ryan Whitehouse, Connect Transit Board Chair.

"Continued advancement of our electric vehicle program and usage of renewable energy as a fuel source will help us offset long term operational costs by reducing fuel and maintenance costs,” said David Braun, General Manager of Connect Transit. “We are proud to be recognized for our continued efforts to improve public transportation in our community.”

Durbin secured the $2.78 million in earmark funding for Connect Transit in the FY22 omnibus, which is part of the more than $14 million in earmark funding he has secured in FY22 and FY23 to help Illinois transit agencies transition to zero emission vehicles. The $2.78 million from the omnibus will be used to purchase smaller, accessible electric vehicles to improve access to public transit for disadvantaged neighborhoods and the area’s growing senior population through their Microtransit service. The agency also plans to use this funding to plan for a future “microgrid” that will allow them to capture and store solar and wind energy to charge their electric vehicle fleet. 

Connect Transit was also awarded $13 million in federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) bus grant programs, which is part of the $71 million in bus grant funding Durbin helped secured last year for Illinois bus projects.  Connect Transit will use the $13 million to purchase five full-sized, accessible electric buses and several additional smaller accessible electric vehicles for their Microtransit and ADA Paratransit services. The agency will also use some of the funds to develop an on-site training center to support their bus training efforts with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and FTA. 

Durbin pushed to significantly increase bus grant funding in the IIJA, which provides more than $5.5 billion over five years for the FTA’s Low or No Emission Bus Grant Program—six times greater than the previous five years of funding combined—and nearly $2 billion over five years for the FTA Bus and Bus Facilities Grant Program.  In total, the IIJA includes $89 billion in funding for public transit, the largest federal transit investment in American history.  Illinois will receive an estimated $4 billion in transit formula funding alone from the IIJA.