FRANKFORT  (KT) — Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday announced $8.5 million in transportation funding to replace about 170 transit system buses with cleaner emission ones in areas of Kentucky challenged with meeting federal air quality standards.

The funds come from $20.3 million awarded to Kentucky under the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, which was part of $100 million secured by then-Attorney General Beshear after filing suit against the automaker for deceiving Kentucky consumers. The 2020 General Assembly developed a spending plan for the funds and approved expenditures beginning July 1, 2020.

“We held Volkswagen accountable for deceiving consumers and now we are using those funds to build a better Kentucky with safe, reliable transportation to help Kentuckians get to work, to the doctor and to the grocery store,” said Gov. Beshear.  “This funding will reduce pollution to create cleaner air and improve transportation options in four regions of the commonwealth.”

The transit awards include:

--Transit Authority of River City, or TARC, in Jefferson County will receive $4.7 million to replace 45 older buses with cleaner, more fuel-efficient buses. 

--Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky, or TANK, will receive $2.1 million to replace six older diesel buses with new diesel buses.

--Lextran, in Lexington, will receive $1.5 million to replace six older diesel buses with four new, natural gas and two all-electric buses.

--Owensboro Transit System will receive $156,403 to replace one older bus with a new all-electric bus.

Both TARC and TANK operate in ozone nonattainment areas, areas considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Lextran and the Owensboro Transit System operate in areas that have not met designated ozone quality standards in the past.


Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said: “The use of $8.5 million of the settlement for the purchase of cleaner-emission transit buses serves our public in two ways. Reduced emissions mean improved air quality, which is a health benefit for everyone. And the upgrading of transit vehicles means better service to our fellow Kentuckians who rely on public transportation for getting to work, school, doctor appointments, shopping and other places they have to go in the course of their daily lives.”

An additional $3 million in Volkswagen mitigation settlement funding is being allocated to zero-emission vehicle equipment. Based on input received from the public, the cabinet is recommending that 75% of those funds go toward the purchase of DC (direct current) fast-charging stations. These stations will be placed along selected highways throughout Kentucky and will help establish unified electric vehicle corridors.

The remaining 25% of the funds will be used for level two charging stations at Kentucky state parks, municipal government locations and local community places of interest.

In addition to the awards announced Tuesday, the Volkswagen Mitigation Fund will cover some Kentucky school districts’ reimbursement for up to 50% of the cost of replacing up to five buses. 

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