Mountain Rides Transportation Authority announced Monday morning that it has received a $1.7 million grant that will help fund the conversion of its bus fleet to battery-powered, zero-emissions vehicles.

The grant is from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Mountain Rides Executive Director Wally Morgus said in a news release that the state grant will be matched with a federal grant worth about $2 million.

That funding will “underwrite Mountain Rides’ initial acquisitions of zero-emission vehicles, likely to be battery-electric buses, and the infrastructure to service, fuel and support those vehicles,” Morgus said. “The DEQ award puts low- or no-emissions transit buses directly in our community’s future.”

The DEQ grant is funded through the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust. The trust was created as part of a settlement between Volkswagen and the federal government, which stemmed from Volkswagen admitting to making diesel cars designed to cheat emissions tests in the U.S.

The automaker agreed to set up and fund state trusts, which are intended to support “environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides,” according to the trust’s website.

The grant funding will help Mountain Rides reduce tailpipe emissions and lower its fleet operating costs, because the new buses with battery electric drive trains are replacing models that rely on internal combustion engines.

“Mountain Rides’ excellence in its operations, along with the commitment of our local funding partners, helped make this grant a reality,” Morgus said.

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