Buttigieg, DeFazio test drive electric LTD bus to promote transit infrastructure legislation

Adam Duvernay
Congressman Peter DeFazio, from left, Mayor Sean VanGordon, Mayor Lucy Vinis and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg learned the highlights of the Lane Transit District's new electric buses Wednesday at the LTD garage in Springfield.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio and some local politicians toured Lane Transit District electric buses Wednesday in Eugene as a way of promoting new federal legislation aimed at modernizing transit infrastructure. 

Buttigieg and DeFazio were joined by Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Springfield Mayor Sean VanGordon and LTD General Manager Aurora Jackson when touring the electric buses that are part of LTD's long-term sustainability efforts. Their trip to Eugene was part of a two-stop tour of Oregon promoting the INVEST in America Act transit infrastructure bill. 

Their first stop Wednesday was a tour and briefing from local leaders along a Highway 99 corridor in Corvallis where several pedestrians and cyclists have been killed.

"We need a transformational investment in infrastructure to last a generation," Buttigieg said.

"Action will address the climate change by creating a network of over 500,000 electric vehicle charges across the country and by giving people the option to leave their cars at home by making the biggest investment in public transit in our country's history, including billions to electrify transit buses like the leaders here at LTD are doing."

LTD officials showed off their electric buses — LTD has 11 battery-electric buses in service and expects to phase out fossil fuels by 2035 — to Buttigieg and DeFazio before letting them get behind the wheel themselves for a spin around its East 17th Avenue lot.

"It's a sweet ride. It is so different than your diesel buses," DeFazio said.

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg takes the wheel and drives one of LTD's new electric buses July 14 during a visit to the bus garage in Springfield to discuss the  INVEST in America transit infrastructure bill in the Senate.

"The world is going electric. Are we going to be left behind again? Are we going to let the Chinese take the initiative? No. With this bill, we won't. We're going to lead the world once again."

The "Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act" is a $715 billion, five-year transportation bill. It passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1 and now the Senate has begun consideration. Authored by DeFazio, the bill is aimed at creating jobs and spurring environmental improvements with nationwide transit projects. 

LTD moving from fossil fuels:

The Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg unplugs a bus from the recharging station Wednesday in the Lane Transit District garage in Springfield.

The INVEST in America Act would provide:

  • $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety, including $32 billion in bridge funding; $4 billion in electric vehicle charging infrastructure; $8.3 billion for activities targeted to reduce carbon pollution; and $3 billion for correcting planning mistakes of the past.
  • $109 billion for transit, including increases in funding for rural transit; a reduced-fare pilot program to improve access for low-income riders; and addressing transit deserts with expanded transit service to unserved and underserved communities.
  • $95 billion for passenger and freight rail, including tripling Amtrak funding to $32 billion; providing funding for corridor planning and development of high-speed rail projects; and creating a program to enforce a 10-minute blocked crossing limit.
  • $117 billion for drinking water infrastructure and assistance, including $53 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the primary source of federal funding for safe drinking water infrastructure and $45 billion to replace lead service lines.
  • $51.25 billion for wastewater infrastructure, including $40 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the primary source of federal funding for clean water infrastructure; $2.5 billion for state water pollution control programs; and a new clean water grant program to invest in communities with failing septic systems.

Contact reporter Adam Duvernay at aduvernay@registerguard.com. Follow on Twitter @DuvernayOR.