Appleton Valley Transit will replace 15 buses

Valley Transit Monday, December 10, 2018 (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) -- Several cities and one county are getting new transit buses, including Appleton.

The funds are coming from money that Volkswagen paid in fines after cheating on emissions tests.

Of almost $3 billion in fines, Wisconsin will get $67 million. Of that, $32 million will be used for new buses.

More than 30 transit buses in Appleton are running 17 hours a day, 6 days a week. Most of the buses? Nearly a quarter-century old.

"A mass transit bus is designed to run a minimum of 12 years or 500,000 miles," said Ron McDonald, the Valley Transit general manager.

McDonald said in the next five years the city will replace its entire fleet. Valley Transit plan to use the grant to replace 15 buses.

"Maintenance costs are going to be far less, we're excited to get clean diesel buses," said McDonald.

McDonald said the clean diesel buses will reduce air pollution emissions by 97 percent, compared to the old buses.

We asked McDonald, why not invest in electric vehicles?

"We weren't ready for electric buses, not confident enough in the technology yet at this point," said McDonald.

He also said in colder weather, electric buses will travel far less than 200 miles per day.

Mechanics say the technology needed for electric buses would be costly.

"I think the electric buses are for something of the future, for when battery technology gets to where it needs to be for longevity, holding a charge," said Mike Farrell, the diesel technology instructor at Fox Valley Technical College.

McDonald said aside from the environmental impacts, the new buses will benefit folks who are physically impaired.

Green Bay is set to receive almost $2 million and Appleton more than $7 million.

In the rest of the state, more than $5 million will go toward buses in Milwaukee County. More than $6 million to Racine and almost a $1 million to Sheboygan. In Madison, public transportation will utilize roughly $5 million and a $1.5 million for Janesville. Finally, Wausau is set to receive almost a $1 million, La Crosse about $200,000 and $2 million for Eau Claire.

After each city and county submitted a request for funding, the state Department of Administration decided how to allocate the money.

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