The Chicago Transit Authority has announced an award of nearly $29 million in grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration, earmarked for the purchase of new all-electric buses and for improvements to existing transit facilities. Since the CTA’s announcement of its “Charging Forward Plan” back in February, this represents the first major federal funding for the plan to convert the entire bus fleet to electric by 2040.

"It's vital that the CTA system be sustainable, affordable, and efficient for both our residents and our environment," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "With this grant funding, not only are we taking steps to protect our environment, but we are leading the way for other municipalities. I'm pleased to see this award bring us one step closer to a climate resilient Chicago."

Electric Bus Conversion TimelineCTA

The approximately $29 million sum will be split to address different parts of the CTA’s electrification efforts. The first portion, totaling $3.4 million, will be used to purchase 10 electric buses, replacing older diesel buses currently in service. Approximately $13.2 million will be allocated towards upgrading the Chicago Avenue Garage, located in Humboldt Park. Identified as the first location for modernization in the “Charging Forward Plan”, the garage services an area that is 93% minority and 86% low income, bringing environmental benefits to some of the most polluted and vulnerable communities in the city. The final $1.1 million will be used to train CTA employees on how to maintain and operate the agency’s electric fleet.

“These funds, which were not originally anticipated as part of our ‘Charging Forward’ plan, will allow us to accelerate the expansion of our all-electric bus fleet, further highlighting the CTA’s commitment to deploying the cleanest and most energy efficient U.S.-made transit buses,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr.  “This is the latest in our ongoing mission to deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities – for today, as well as for the future of Chicago.”

Pantograph Charger at Navy PierCTA

Currently, there are more than 20 electric buses in the fleet that are operating along the #66 Chicago route, connecting the Austin neighborhood to the near West Side and Navy Pier. The CTA aims to prioritize routes serving South and West side neighborhoods historically overburdened by air quality issues for early equitable electric bus deployment and aims to electrify routes serving the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line terminal in the next few years. 

The funding is sourced through the FTA’s 2022 Low or No Emission and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program, which is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Over the next five years, the BIL will provide $5.5 billion for the Low- and No-Emission Program, which CTA will continue to pursue to further advance its fleet electrification plans.