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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Bus Procurement

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 greatly increased federal support to modernize and expand public transportation nationwide, including investments in the nation’s bus systems. FTA will administer $5.1 billion in formula and competitive grants through the Buses and Bus Facilities Program and an additional $5.6 billion in Low or No Emission Bus Grants through 2026.

Among other programs, the federal funding will support the purchase of cleaner American-made transit buses and upgrade fueling and maintenance infrastructure. FTA’s FY2022-2023 grant awards are supporting the purchase of more than 1,800 zero-emission buses, which will double the total number of zero-emission buses on America’s roads. 

What's New

  • On February 29, 2024, FTA hosted a webinar to highlight solutions to get the most from federal investments, including recommended procurement tools, steps to reduce bus costs, shorten production timelines, and help maintain domestic manufacturing capacity.
  • See FTA’s Dear Colleague letter highlighting tools to improve bus procurement and manufacturing

Supporting American Bus Manufacturing

FTA is focused on the health of the American bus manufacturing industry.  More than 1,000 private companies supply this sector, providing everything from parts to systems to entire vehicles.

Despite a historic level of federal investment, transit-related businesses – and, especially, vehicle manufacturers – are facing significant challenges that were amplified by the pandemic.

For companies that manufacture buses, high levels of customization, inflated component costs, and long procurement and payment timelines are impacting their financial health.

King County Metro Buses

Those challenges are undercutting BIL investments, threatening the financial solvency of some manufacturers, leading others to close their U.S. manufacturing facilities, and jeopardizing the ability of transit agencies to procure buses. These factors have led to a major backlog of bus orders, which in turn slows agencies’ service improvement plans and keeps them from meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

FTA is working with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), bus manufacturers, transit agencies, and other stakeholders to identify solutions and support actions to help contain vehicle costs, accelerate delivery of new zero-emission buses, and strengthen the American bus manufacturing industry, including:

Athens Public Transit Bus

  • significantly expanding technical assistance throughout the transit industry, including bus manufacturers and transit operators
  • recommending and providing incentives to transit agencies to reconsider customization decisions that add unnecessary engineering costs, extend procurement cycles, and eliminate the efficiency in scaled production
  • adding new priority considerations in the FY2024 Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Low or No Emission Grant Program and the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program

Procurement Considerations

Flexibilities available to federal grant recipients to help accelerate procurement cycles, reduce bus costs and risk of cost increases, and encourage more competition and innovation to the U.S. bus manufacturing industry include:

Accelerate Procurements Lower Bus Costs and Promote Competition
  • State Schedules
  • Joint Procurements (shared spec)
  • Low-No Partnership
  • Base Bus Model (w/o customization)
  • APTA Standard Bus Procurement RFP ("White Book")
  • Performance Specifications
  • Advance/Progress Payments
  • Minimize/Eliminate Customization
  • Minimize Bonding 
  • Use Industry Pricing Indices
  • Performance Specifications
  • “Brand Name or Equivalent” Contract Language

Bus Procurement Resources