The Brazos Transit District and Texas A&M University (TAMU) Transportation Services were recently awarded a $14 million BUILD Grant from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to replace part of their aging fleets.
Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Research Scientist Michael Walk wrote the grant proposal as part of an Interagency Contract between Brazos Transit District and TTI.
“TTI worked with Brazos Transit District on its TIGER grant application last year. Brazos Transit District approached TTI again this year for the BUILD program, because it received good feedback on their initial application even though it wasn’t awarded,” said Walk. “Brazos Transit and TAMU Transportation Services put together the ideas for what they needed and the innovation they wanted to explore, for example the battery-electric buses. We worked with them on the grant to fine tune the funding request, then we prepared all the narrative documentation and benefit-cost analysis, which analyzes whether the project produces economic benefit over and above what its full cost.”
The $14,050,000 grant will help replace more than 30 diesel buses, including 12 Brazos Transit District diesel buses and 20 Texas A&M University diesel buses (3 of which will be replaced with battery-electric buses)—a total estimated cost of $17.5 million.
“The buses in the Brazos Transit District and TAMU Transportation fleet that will be replaced have exceeded their service life both in terms of years and miles,” explained Walk. “Replacing these old and outdated buses with more efficient, clean diesel buses will reduce maintenance, support a state of good repair, and accommodate more riders.”
An innovative component of the grant is to replace three of TAMU Transportation diesel buses with battery-electric buses. These buses will be used exclusively to operate transit service to the RELLIS Campus.
“An important part of this project is the potential to evaluate the use of battery-electric buses,” noted Walk. “Battery-electric buses are still an emerging technology and do not have wide-spread adoption. Part of the appeal of running the RELLIS route with electric buses is that it’s a unique test case to run these buses at high speed at this distance and evaluate the benefits.”