VIA buses lined in parking spaces at the refueling center.
VIA Metropolitan Transit has elected Fernando Reyes as the new board chair of the transit system. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

VIA Metropolitan Transit has received a $2 million grant from a federal agency to buy new electric buses.

The buses, which run on electric batteries, will replace diesel-fueled buses in an attempt to reduce emissions. The funding comes from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low- or No-Emission Grant program.

The agency announced 52 grants across the country Aug. 24. VIA received a portion of $84.45 million made available nationwide. Last year, the company received $1.75 million from the same grant program. The combined funding from last year and this year will allow VIA to buy eight electric buses.

Another Texas city, Port Arthur, received $2.2 million for battery buses and maintenance.

VIA president and CEO Jeffrey Arndt said Thursday that VIA is proud to receive the grant as they work toward using alternative power sources.

“The acquisition of electric buses complements our purchases of compressed natural gas buses to highlight our role as an industry leader in improving local air quality,” Arndt said in a news release.

VIA first introduced electric battery-powered buses in 2013; the company bought three with a $5 million federal grant, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Those are currently the only electric buses in use by VIA.

VIA also has more than 300 buses powered by compressed natural gas, which company officials said helps them reduce emissions and save money.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) said access to environmentally friendly options such as electric buses will benefit public health in large cities.

“I welcome this federal grant for the purchase of these electric buses for downtown San Antonio, which will inevitably help our city be a national leader in sustainable transit,” Castro said in a prepared statement. “In turn, this grant will make our great city of San Antonio a safer, cleaner place for everyone and an example for other cities across Texas and our nation.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.