AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta leaders meet today to share how new federal legislation will help the city reach its Climate Action Plan Goals.

In April 2022, Augusta Transit formed its Climate Action Plan with the goal of reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

A recent federal investment will soon help to replace current public transportation with energy-saving buses.

Augusta Transit received a 6.2 million dollar grant from the Federal Transit Administration. 

They’re using the funds to purchase a fleet of Gillig buses that will operate off electrical power.

“Our initiative to go green in the city of Augusta is one that not only looks after folks having the opportunity to get from point A to point B in an efficient manner, but also give them the opportunity to have access to a good quality of life from a health perspective as well,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

Augusta Transit deputy director Dr. Oliver Page says the plan is to have the buses running by early 2025.

“Part of our climate action goals was to ensure that more people in Augusta live within three quarters of a mile of a clean energy bus,” said Dr. Page. “And that will mean expanding our service into South Augusta.”

City leaders say the new bus fleet is only the beginning of their plan to reduce Augusta’s carbon emissions by 50 percent.

“You do pay the cost eventually,” said Paige Brockmayer, Augusta group leader of Citizens Climate Lobby. “So whether or not you’re, you know, at the back end of the road when people have experienced pain and suffering as a result of chronic health conditions…obviously, pollution just makes all of that worse.”

“When we say environmental justice,” said Reverend Brendolyn Jenkins Boseman, executive director of The Imani Group. “Those are the things that impact where we live, where we work, where we play and where we pray in our communities.” 

Dr. Page also tells us part of the federal grant will go toward workforce development.

“That will be to equip our staff- our bus operators how to operate eclectic buses,” said Dr. Page. “Also, our mechanics- how to fix electric buses. No one is going to be displaced when we transition to electric buses.”

City leaders tell us the goal is to convert Augusta’s entire motor vehicle fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2031.