Lee-Ogle Transportation System to receive electric buses

New vehicles will be used to expand service in region

The Lee-Ogle Transportation System won a $2.8 million state grant to expand services and create a satellite office in Ogle County. The bulk of the grant will go toward acquiring property, and designing and building the office, the location for which has yet to be announced.

DIXON – The Lee-Ogle Transportation System will be getting two electric buses to expand service and promote greener transportation.

Earlier this week, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that the Illinois Department of Transportation was awarded $24.9 million in two grants from the Federal Transit Administration for new battery-electric paratransit vehicles and vehicle replacements.

LOTS will receive two of the electric buses for transporting community members in the two-county region.

“The investment will help expand and improve services providing additional transportation options, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing quality of life throughout the state,” LOTS Executive Director Greg Gates said.

LOTS provided more than 78,508 rides to people in Lee and Ogle counties in fiscal 2022, an amount already surpassed in fiscal 2023, while accumulating more than 21,000 service hours and 584,000 miles, Gates said.

IDOT received $12.3 million from the FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program to deploy 50 battery-electric buses and charging infrastructure to five large urban, four small urban and 15 rural public transit agencies.

“Public transportation is an essential service in all of our communities, whether rural or urban,” Gates said. “The paratransit vehicles provided by these grants are key to continued efforts to ensure everyone has safe, equitable access to the transportation they depend on while reducing emissions and their harmful impact on the environment.”

The project is supported in part by a $1 million Congressional-Directed Spending award from U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

“Electric vehicles enable a cleaner future, and they also create jobs across the state,” Durbin said. “These federal funds provide Illinois’ transit systems with the critical resources they need to deploy the latest technology and maintain reliable, affordable services for Illinoisans.”

The $13.3 million federal funds will be supplemented by $3.3 million from Illinois’ Downstate Transit Improvement Fund.

“Transitioning to electric vehicles and other green energy sources puts us on the path to a healthier environment while opening up new avenues for economic growth and job creation in our state,” Duckworth said. “With this federal support, we’re able to help modernize Illinois’ public transit by replacing and rehabilitating bus fleets across the state with low-pollution, energy efficient models.”

At $12.6 million, the second grant will fund a minimum of 130 standard fuel vehicles for 33 small urban and rural public transit agencies across the state.

The new vehicles will replace those that have outlived their useful life, particularly in areas of high demand due to large proportions of seniors, people with disabilities and zero-car households, as well as Equitable Transportation Communities as defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This grant is also matched with $3.1 million from Illinois’ Downstate Transit Improvement Fund.

The grants are part of a $1.7 billion FTA investment to fund 130 projects in 46 states and territories, including buses, related equipment and transit facility projects.

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Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.