Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB) released America’s first federally-compliant statewide procurement for battery-electric cutaway and transit-style vans. The contract will allow all transit agencies and state DOTs to leverage federal funds to purchase vehicles with this contract without having to go through the complicate procurement process each time.
Development of the technical specifications was a collaboration led by CALSTART, a national non-profit, and Michigan DOT with significant contributions from Ohio DOT, Indiana DOT, Illinois DOT, Wisconsin DOT, Iowa DOT, and four Michigan Transit Agencies: Clare County Transit, Benzie Bus, Delta Area Transit, and Macatawa Area Express.
“Michigan has created a much-needed statewide procurement contract to help transit agencies across the country procure zero-emission buses by utilizing existing regulations, specifically the FAST Act of 2015,” said Jared Schnader, director, bus programs, at CALSTART. “Additionally, having such a great group of DOTs and transit agencies come together to develop specifications was something that is rarely seen in the industry, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
The impetus for the statewide procurement was a 2020 FTA Low-No grant that Michigan DOT won with CALSTART as a project partner. In 2019, CALSTART released a white paper on statewide procurements relating to full-size transit buses, which had been developed and awarded in California, Georgia, and Virginia.
“We knew we would purchase battery-electric cutaway buses for our transit agencies under the Low-No award, but we also wanted the flexibility for others to use our contract. CALSTART helped guide the process of the statewide procurement development along with our colleagues at DTMB,” said Jean Ruestman, administrator of the Office of Passenger Transportation at Michigan DOT. “We continue to push toward creating the jobs of the future and helping our transit agencies adopt new technologies.”
Preliminary research for the Midwest showed the potential for more than 300 battery-electric buses to be purchased through this contract once it is awarded. This would be a significant increase in the amount of battery-electric cutaway buses and transit-style vans in the transit market, where only 204 battery-electric cutaway buses and vans have been purchased by transit agencies — the bulk of these being in California, according to a 2021 report released by CALSTART.