Durbin Visits Metrolink, Discusses Future Of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

ROCK ISLAND – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District’s (MetroLINK) Bus Depot to learn about their electric bus fleet and charging infrastructure and call for an increased federal investment in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. MetroLINK’s electric bus expansion has been funded by nearly $10 million in federal funding, including a $2.9 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration that Durbin helped secure last year. 

“We are standing at the starting line of an electric vehicle revolution in our country, and Illinois is poised to lead the pack,” Durbin said. “I had the chance today to look at MetroLINK’s new electric bus charging infrastructure, which is exactly the type of investment we should be making. Think of the climate benefits of reduced carbon emissions, the health benefits of lowering our exposure to diesel fumes, or the many jobs created by this burgeoning electric vehicle supply chain. I will continue to support robust, sustained funding for electric vehicle infrastructure and the innovation that drives our economy forward.”

“Throughout his career, Senator Durbin has stood with MetroLINK and the entire public transit industry in advocating for the repair, replacement, and modernization of America’s transportation infrastructure,” said Jeff Nelson, General Manager of MetroLINK and Chair of the American Public Transportation Association. “Our electric bus project we shared with him today is an example of how advances in EV technology can benefit communities of all sizes. I want to thank him for his leadership and support of clean and reliable transportation infrastructure, and look forward to new investments in public transit that preserves our environment, creates jobs, and advances equity.”

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposes a $174 billion investment in EVs, including new tax incentives to buy American-made EVs and a grant program for state and local governments and the private sector to build 500,000 charging stations, including for buses, by 2030. 

In 2002, MetroLINK began a clean air initiative that started with the introduction of clean-burning natural gas buses to its fleet and in recent years expanded to the introduction of battery-electric buses.  Currently, MetroLINK has eight battery-electric buses in its fleet with plans to expand its fleet by an additional nine electric buses by the end of this year. Along with new electric buses, MetroLINK worked with a local engineering and electrical firm to design and install a ceiling mounted charging system in its bus depot.  The innovative approach has allowed MetroLINK to expand its electric fleet without having to change the layout of its bus depot. 

The EV transportation industry and its surrounding infrastructure currently employs more than 5,000 Illinoisans, and a recent report prepared for Advanced Energy Economy by BW Research Partnership projects electric transportation employment in Illinois will grow to more than 9,500 workers by 2024 – an 83 percent jump in just three years.