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Benzie Bus Receives Federal Grant for Facility Expansion, New Electric Buses

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The Federal Transit Administration is sending $13.6 million in transit grants to the state.

Benzie Bus is one of four rural transit authorities, along with the City of Alma, Thunder Bay Transportation Authority and Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority, that received $7.4 million for bus facility rehabilitation and expansion projects.

“We applied for over $360,000 for a new facility, and also for the electrification of our fleet and charging stations,” said Benzie Bus Executive Director Bill Kennis.

Benzie Bus is planning on building their new facility behind their existing garage.

They’re hoping to start this project later in 2022.

“Once the funding comes in place, we will go out to bid and select a contractor,” said Benzie Bus Operations Manager Chad Hollenbeck. “Hopefully we will break ground this year and in order to have a place to house our new electric vehicles.”

They’re looking to get about four new electric buses, and having a place for the buses to charge is crucial.

“About half of our 22 vehicles are parked outside and for normal winters and vehicles,” said Kennis. “But when you start getting into electric vehicles, the temperature will affect their performance, certainly charging them in a warmer environment makes sense.”

Benzie Bus said the new electric buses will keep their authority as a transit technology leader, as they already have 90% of their fleet use propane as fuel.

“Benzie Bus has always had the goal to be on the front side of new technology,” said Hollenbeck. “We’re hopeful that battery powered buses will be a positive addition.”