The BIL includes many new and expanded programs across a number of sectors. A manual like this one exploring all of the provisions included in the bill would span volumes. Instead, we have selected provisions in eight broad categories that all touch on the intersections between good jobs, a clean environment, and a fair and just economy.
The BIL is the first step of the Build Back Better Agenda, but additional legislation will need to be passed to address priorities outside of the scope of this bill, as well as filling some remaining gaps. In addition to exploring how the BIL addresses critical priority areas, we have included some information about what is missing and how those items can be addressed in future Build Back Better Agenda Legislation.
Transportation systems undergird our country and our economy. Workers and families rely on our transportation infrastructure to access jobs, visit family and loved ones, and utilize retail and recreation. Our nation’s transportation infrastructure has been in a state of disrepair for decades and we need to rebuild, modernize, and expand these systems in ways that will create good-paying jobs in construction, manufacturing, operations, and other services—sectors that will be at the heart of our economic recovery.
Updating our transportation networks is also key to our fight against climate change. As of 2019, transportation in the United States accounts for more emissions than any other economic sector. Reducing emissions from this sector on a timeline consistent with our ambitious climate goals means taking a two-pronged approach that 1) urgently spurs the adoption of cleaner vehicles, and 2) reduces individual driving through smart investment in clean public transit networks, non-motorized transportation infrastructure, and transit-oriented development.
The BIL makes critical investments in the transition to cleaner vehicles by allocating at least $5 billion, and up to $7.5 billion, toward the construction of a robust, nationwide, and public EV charging network, up to $5 billion to transition the nation’s school bus fleet to zero-emission school buses, and approximately $5.6 billion for public transit bus electrification. These investments provide a significant demand push in the market for EVs—and particularly heavy-duty EVs such as school and transit buses—which will serve to reduce the cost of production. Additionally, these investments place EVs in communities across the country, establishing visibility and trust in the technology; alongside other complementary policies and incentives, this public education will play a key role in the effort to transition all vehicles—including privately owned ones—to cleaner alternatives like EVs.
Public transit received a significant investment of $39 billion in the BIL, which will serve to restore transit service curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expand and modernize it to meet communities’ needs. Additionally, innovative programs such as grants to reconnect communities—like a DOT pilot program authorized and funded by the BIL—will provide support to remove highways and redesign road and transit networks in neighborhoods previously divided and destroyed by the placement of highway, rail, and port infrastructure.
These transit investments aren’t just essential for improving mobility and for achieving climate goals; research demonstrates that public transit investment creates jobs and supports regional economic growth. For example, recent analysis from the BlueGreen Alliance found that the $39 billion in the BIL would result in the creation of 204,750 direct, 131,820 indirect, and 185,250 induced jobs, a total of 521,820 jobs over 10 years.
|Category||Program Name and Description||Funding Level||Administering Agency or Office||Funding mechanism||Timeline||Standards||Eligible Entities|
|Transit||Surface Transportation Reauthorization for Transit Funding – Comprehensive reauthorization of transit programs for next five-year window. Increased investment for transit (both operating/capital costs).||$39 Billion||DOT – Federal Transit Administration||Existing, reauthorized programs: Formula and Block Grant Programs; Additional Formula and Discretionary Grants; Discretionary Grants.||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), et al.|
|Rail Funding – Funding for new and upgraded rail service, including for Amtrak and other funding for safety and freight upgrades. Some funding can potentially be used in coordination with regional rail.||$66 Billion||DOT – Federal Railroad Administration||Existing and New Programs; Grants||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||Amtrak, state agencies, MPOs, et al.|
|Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program – Establishes two grant programs dedicated to developing and implementing plans to reconnect communities through the removal, replacement, or relocation of transportation infrastructure such as highways and railroads.||$1 Billion||DOT – Federal Highway Administration||New Program: Grants||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||State DOTs, MPOs, et al.|
|EV Charging Infrastructure||National EV Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program – Designates Alternative Fuel Corridors along the Interstate Highway System and funds the installation of public EV charging infrastructure to facilitate travel and commerce.||$5 Billion||DOE and DOT – Joint Office of Energy and Transportation||New Program: Formula Grant||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||State DOTs, MPOs, et al.|
|Corridor and Community Charging Grant Programs – Fund the installation of public EV charging infrastructure along the Interstate Highway System and within communities to facilitate travel and commerce.||$2.5 Billion||DOE and DOT – Joint Office of Energy and Transportation||New Program: Competitive Grants||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America||State DOTs, MPOs, et al.|
|Electric Transit and School Buses||Low or No Emission Bus Grant Program – Part of BIL Surface Transportation Reauthorization; Funds state and local government authorities to purchase or lease low or no emission buses and infrastructure; Part of BIL reauthorization for bus funding; Raises minimum eligibility for zero emissions buses and bus facilities to 25% threshold.||$5.6 Billion||DOT – Federal Transit Administration||Existing Program: Competitive Grants||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Buy America, Incumbent Workforce Development Training||State DOTs, MPOs, et al.|
|Clean School Bus Program – To support the deployment of electric and alternative fuel powered school buses; Also see Table 6.||Up to $5 Billion||EPA – State and Tribal Assistance Grants||New Program: Competitive Grants||FY22-FY26||Davis Bacon, Priority for high-need school districts and rural and low income areas.||School districts, non-profit transportation associations, tribes, contractors|
Rounding Out the Build Back Better Agenda: Transportation
The BIL includes a number of positive provisions related to transportation infrastructure investment, including funding for DOT competitive grant projects and an investment to the Federal Railroad Administration 11 times larger than the previous year. However, transit is a key remaining need in the BIL. While transit funding received a significant investment of $39 billion above baseline, more is needed to meet the current $176 billion backlog in transit needs.
Electric Vehicles and Infrastructure
The BIL designates $5 billion to the new Clean School Bus Program at EPA, allocating 50% of total program funds for zero-emission buses. This funding falls far short of levels needed to rapidly clean up the fleet, and is likely to slow the transition to zero-emission buses for priority communities in particular, due to insufficient targeting for low-income and non-attainment school districts. Gaps in protections for workers also remain in this area.
The BIL also allocates up to $7.5 billion in total funds to EV charging, far short of the funding needed to ensure nationwide access to charging, particularly for those rural and low-income communities likely to be served last through the private provision of charging.