ShuttleBus-ZOOM serving Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach will soon be getting an electric bus. COURTESY PHOTO

BIDDEFORD — The Maine Department of Transportation is slated to receive $2.29 million in federal funding to help purchase electric buses to service the greater Portland area. 

U.S First District Representative Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, made the announcement in a written statement on Tuesday.

MDOT worked with the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, Greater Portland Metro and ShuttleBus-ZOOM to submit the proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Low Or No Emission Discretionary Grant Program, according to Pingree. Pingree wrote a letter of support for the application. 

The increasing number of people using public transportation has had a positive impact on reducing the number of vehicles on the road and emissions, Pingree said. This grant will reduce emissions even further by helping local transit providers begin transitioning their fleets to electric buses. 

“These buses run smoothly, silently, and without exhaust,” Pingree said. “It will be exciting to see them on the road and I think they will get even more Mainers interested in riding the bus.”

Al Schutz, director of ShuttleBus-ZOOM, a transit system serving Saco, Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach, in an email statement thanked MDOT officials for their support and having the vision that the electrification of the transit system is the wave of the future. 

“ShuttleBus-ZOOM is very excited about starting the journey to clean, sustainable transit systems. Collaborative efforts between Greater Portland Metro and ShuttleBus-ZOOM will create numerous opportunities to address the challenges of public transit as we move forward,” said Schutz. “I’m delighted that our two systems will be leading the change in Maine to a more robust and sustainable transit infrastructure.”

The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group released a report in May advocating municipalities switch to electric buses, according to The Associated Press. The report stated that replacing all the nation’s diesel powered transit buses with electric buses could save more than 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the AP.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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