The following post is from Tarryl Clark, National Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! campaign.
Earlier today I joined dozens of proud Minnesotans who heard U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announce a $3.3 million grant for the St. Cloud areas Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) to renovate its bus operations center to accommodate vehicles powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). In addition, the funds would be used to build a CNG fueling station. The last 10 buses purchased by the MTC were purchased locally from the New Flyer Bus Company in St. Cloud, who employs members of IUE-CWA.
The Secretary was joined by local leaders and U.S. Senator Amy Kloubchar, and he spoke about the importance of sustainable transportation systems to jobs and our environment. “In Minnesota and across the country, President Obama is committed to investing in sustainable transportation systems that improve access to jobs, education and medical care for millions of riders, while bringing cleaner air to our communities and reducing our dependence on oil,” said Secretary LaHood. “These projects will also help transit agencies operate more efficiently, so they save money in the long run.”
The grants are part of the Clean Fuels Grant Program, and in total 27 projects around the U.S. are receiving almost $60 million in funds to get communities to purchase greener buses that reduce emission and have improved fuel economy. Check out this map to see what clean fuel projects were funded near you.
St. Cloud is a great example of rural transit in the U.S. The city of just over 70,000 has a vibrant transit system, with buses running seven-days-a-week throughout the city and smaller communities surrounding it. However, like most transit systems, it has to raise rates to make up for lost funds from the federal, state and local level over the last few years.
Transit is a necessary component to a strong economy and a key component of the Jobs21! plan. It was great to see the Obama administration show their support for St. Cloud’s transit system today and reward them for their forward thinking plans for a cleaner, more efficient bus fleet.