U.S. Funds Energy-Efficient Transit Projects

Energy-efficient transit investment has been on the rise in Asia, South America and Europe. In the United States, the Transportation Department recently announced it will fund these projects, as well. In November, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said his department has granted $112 million to fund 46 projects in seven states, according to Reuters.

It’s the right time for the U.S. to move forward with greening mass transit vehicles and facilities. LaHood pointed to the job creation intent of the projects, but there are other major benefits, as well.

First, local governments are keenly interested in greener transit options. Reuters reported that the U.S. Transportation Department received 266 funding requests worth $1 billion. The biggest bulk of the $112 million will go to projects in Pennsylvania, followed by initiatives in California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

Second, technology is ready to support these projects. We’re seeing a strong demand for hybridized asymmetric concepts, or an ultracapacitor and battery combination, in the commercial and transportation markets. Ultracapacitors support regenerative braking in hybrid buses and electrification of light rail, increasing fleet efficiency.

With ultracapacitors’ energy storage benefits, such as high power density and extremely long cycle life, hybridized public transportation is both possible and beneficial in terms of long-term savings and immediate environmental impact.

The announcement of government funding for energy-efficient public transportation has widespread implications. In Pennsylvania, it will lead to hybrid buses and more vehicles fueled by natural gas. In California, the grants will fund, “electric, hydrogen fuel cell, hybrid and diesel hybrid buses that emit fewer pollutants into the air and rely less on oil,” according to Reuters.

The funded projects will help limit the carbon footprint of public transit and reduce energy consumption. They’ll also contribute to changing the transportation norm in the U.S. (as is happening in many other countries) to one that embraces technology to put cleaner vehicles on the roads and rails.

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