Subscriber Login


US LoNo Programme: Deployment of low and zero emission vehicles [free access]

June 1, 2016

The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment (LoNo) Programme was launched in FY 2013 to deploy next-generation, energy-efficient vehicles nationwide.


Recently, the FTA announced a funding of USD55 million for FY 2016 funds for the purchase or lease of low-or-no-emission vehicles as well as related equipment and facilities. The selected projects are yet to be announced.


The funds are expected to encourage the adoption of green technologies in transit buses, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and support the growing sustainable energy industry in the country. These technologies include hydrogen fuel cells and electric and hybrid engines.


Programme background


The LoNo Programme was established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). It builds on the success of FTA’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program, which awarded USD90 million over seven years for research, development and testing of alternative fuels and related equipment for the transit industry.


The LoNo Programme focuses on commercialising the cleanest and most energy-efficient locally-manufactured transit buses. It provides funding to transit agencies for capital acquisition and lease of zero emission and low-emission transit buses as well as acquisition, construction, and leasing of support facilities such as recharging, refuelling and maintenance.


Funding eligibility


The LoNo Programme is a competitive grants programme with strict criterion for funding eligibility. The eligible recipients include operators of fixed route bus service, state and local governmental entities as well as federally-recognised Indian tribes that operate fixed route bus services.


The funds can to be used for capital projects to replace, rehabilitate and purchase buses, vans, and related equipment as well as to construct bus-related facilities for low-or-no-emission vehicles or facilities. Table 1 indicates the major eligible project components.


Table 1: Eligible project components



CNG buses



Diesel-electric hybrid buses


20- to 32-foot buses


Automobiles and minivans


Combined applications for refuelling and maintenance


Extended warranties


Spare parts


Preventive maintenance service


Studies and planning


Source: FTA


A wide range of technology and vehicle types are eligible for the programme; however, they are not equally competitive. The zero-emission buses receive priority consideration.


The federal share of eligible capital cost is 80 per cent of the net capital cost of the project, unless the grant recipient requests a lower percentage. The federal share may exceed 80 per cent for certain projects related to the Clean Air Act (CAA) and bicycles.


The federal funds must be utilised within four years (year of award and three years) of the year of award.


Previous funding


The LoNo Programme has provided funding of about USD78 million over the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015.


In February 2015, the FTA awarded around USD55 million in grants to 10 organisations selected for FY 2013 and 2014. Table 2 provides the details of these grants.


Table 2: LoNo funding approved in February 2015



Project sponsor

Project description

Amount (USD million)


Thousand Palms

Sunline Transit Agency in partnership with Southern California Association of Governments

Building and deployment of five hydrogen electric hybrid fuel cell buses. BAE Systems, Ballard Power Systems and ElDorado National will team up to build the new zero-emission buses. This project is expected to increase Sunline's current fleet of hydrogen electric hybrid fuel cell buses and allow the agency to expand service in the Coachella Valley area of Southern California.




San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD)

Purchase of five Proterra battery-electric buses and a charging station. RTD plans to add the zero-emission buses and charging station in the Stockton Downtown Transit Center, which is the transfer point for nearly all RTD routes.




Lextran, Transit Authority of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government

Purchase of five Proterra battery-electric buses, one charging station and one maintenance area charging system. The zero-emission buses will replace five diesel buses that are at the end of their useful life. Lextran plans to develop a centrally charged and operated system of electric buses from the downtown transit centre, which serves a majority of the city bus routes.




Transit Authority of River City (TARC)

Deployment of five Proterra battery-electric buses and a fast charging station. The zero-emission buses will increase TARC's fleet of battery-electric buses, and the charger will work with TARC's existing chargers to expand the service area of battery-electric buses.




Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA)

Purchase and installation of a Proterra charging station for the existing fleet of zero-emission battery-electric buses. The charging station has emergency power generation capability to charge electric buses during power outages.




Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Development and deployment of five 60-foot (18.29-metres) long, articulated New Flyer battery-electric buses on the MBTA Silver Line bus rapid transit system. The buses are expected to have improved performance on ice and snow-covered roads.




The Duluth Transit Authority (DTA)

Purchase and deployment of six Proterra Fast Charge Electric buses, two charging stations and a maintenance facility charger. The DTA will use these new, zero-emission electric buses to replace some of the oldest diesel buses in its fleet. DTA provides approximately 3 million rides per year throughout St. Louis County in northeast Minnesota.




Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA)

Purchase and deployment of five hydrogen fuel cell buses from the Integrated Product Team of Ballard Power Systems, BAE Systems, and ElDorado National. The agency will use the new zero-emission buses in a variety of operating conditions, including congested downtown streets, major urban roads and rural highways. SARTA provides more than 2.7 million rides per year throughout Stark County, Ohio.




Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA)

Purchase of 17 electric hybrid buses to replace current diesel buses that are at the end of their useful life. The new, low emission buses will be manufactured by BAE Systems and Gillig. Of the total, 14 buses are for the RRTA and three for the Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority, which is being managed by the RRTA. The two agencies serve Berks and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania.




Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART)

Purchase and deployment of seven all-electric Proterra buses. DART will operate the fast charge, zero-emission buses on its downtown circulator service, D-Link. The circulator serves the central business district, Uptown area and the historic Oak Cliff neighbourhoods.







Source: FTA




Among low emission bus manufacturers in North America, New Flyer, Proterra, Gillig and ElDorado National, have significant presence. While Proterra focuses on manufacturing all-electric zero-emissions vehicles; the hybrid bus market is led by BAE Systems’ HybriDrive propulsion systems, which are available on buses manufactured by ElDorado National, New Flyer, Gillig, Alexander Dennis Limited and Nova Bus.


Of the USD55 million in grants for FY 2013 and 2014, Proterra won contracts worth USD29 million for supplying 28 electric buses and charging stations; BAE systems in partnership with Gillig and ElDorado National won contracts worth USD21.32 million for supplying 27 hybrid buses (hydrogen-electric) and New Flyer won a contract worth USD4.14 million for supplying 5 battery-electric hybrid buses.


Recent funding


In September 2015, FTA had announced the availability of USD22.5 million from the FY 2015 funds and in April 2016, it selected seven projects for the deployment of low or no-emission transit buses. Table 3 gives details of the projects selected.


Table 3: LoNo funding approved in April 2016


Project sponsor

Project description

Amount (USD million)


LACMTA under Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)

Funding of USD4,275,000 to procure five battery-electric zero-emission buses as well as eight charging stations to serve the Metro Orange Line bus rapid transit corridor in the City of Los Angeles. LACMTA will also partner with the Southern California Regional Transit Training Consortium to develop workforce for zero-emission technology.



Foothill Transit under SCAG

Funding of USD1,310,000 for electric charging facilities for electric-only bus line. This programme aims to expand Foothill Transit's electric bus capabilities.



AC Transit Under the Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Funding of USD1,551,611 to procure five battery-electric buses and related equipment. AC Transit has deployed battery-electric and fuel cell electric buses. This project will expand AC Transit's clean vehicle infrastructure and provide valuable data to compare battery-electric and fuel cell technology.



Stark Area Regional Transit Authority

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) will receive funding of USD4,015,174 to procure three zero-emission American Fuel Cell Buses (AFCBs). The project builds on SARTA's existing fuel cell bus programme, which has established hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure and involves deployment of five AFCBs in Stark County.



Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

Funding of USD2,585,075 to procure 25 zero-emission all-electric buses and related equipment. These vehicles will be deployed on bus routes in South Philadelphia, and an associated workforce development programme will be undertaken.



Utah Transit Authority

Funding of USD5,427,100 to procure five battery-electric zero-emission buses to operate the route connecting the University of Utah campus to Salt Lake City.



King County

Funding of USD3,336,040 to procure eight battery-electric zero-emission buses to operate on two routes deploying only zero-emission vehicles.






Source: FTA




LoNo is one of the many initiatives of the FTA to address environmental sustainability. The programme has been a driver of economic development because the buses purchased through LoNo funding are mandated to meet Buy America requirements. The applications for grants under the FY2016 funds closed on May 13, 2016. The list of selected projects is expected to be announced within a few months.