Tulare, Kings counties receive $33M to improve transit

State grant will provide the two counties with two new transit centers and zero-emission buses and vans  in Lindsay, Hanford and Visalia to better connect with a future cross-Valley light rail and High Speed Rail Station

SACRAMENTO – Tulare and Kings county residents will have more public transportation options in the next five years thanks to a more than $33 million grant from the state.

On July 7, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) awarded $796.1 million to 23 projects across the state to expand transit, intercity rail services and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in low-income communities.

A portion of the funding will go to Tulare and Kings counties to build two transit centers in Lindsay and Hanford and to purchase 14 zero emission buses to transport people between cities and 16 zero emission vans, known as microtransit vehicles, to operate within cities, according to CalSTA. The “feeder” buses will replace gasoline and compressed natural gas fueled buses with electric buses traveling between Visalia and Hanford. The vans will make it easier to plan shorter trips between cities as well as accommodate those unable to walk or bike to the nearest transit stop. Both will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 475,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of taking 100,000 gas-powered cars off local roads – and improve access to rail. The vehicles are designed to help residents access the east-west Cross Valley Corridor, a plan to build a light, passenger rail train running from Porterville to Huron, which will connect communities in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties with the High Speed Rail station in Hanford.

The new buses and transit centers project is a joint collaboration between Tulare County Regional Transit Agency (TCRTA) with Kings Area Regional Transit (KART), Visalia Transit and San Joaquin JPA. The grant will provide $33.7 million of the estimated $53.7 million cost of the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2028.

TCRTA executive director Richard Tree said the goal of the new buses and vans is to connect local communities to high speed rail in Hanford. He said the combination of zero emission vehicles and the high speed rail can give Tulare County residents a connection to the northern and southern regions of the state without worsening the air quality.

“Tulare County is home to some of the worst air quality in the state and especially in the nation,” he said. “[Residents] will be able to ride public transportation on a bus that isn’t emitting any dangerous pollutants.”

The bulk of the funding will build transit centers in Lindsay and Hanford which will transit from just buses to buses and light rail stops once the light rail system is complete. The Lindsay Transit Center Project will be bolstered by eight zero emissions buses and eight microtransit vans on three TCRTA routes connecting Dinuba, Visalia, Tulare, Lindsay, Porterville and Delano.

A new Transit Station and Administrative Facility will be built for KART in Hanford as well as adding four zero emission buses being added to a route connecting Hanford with the city of Corcoran and Corcoran State Prison. Eight microtransit vehicles will also be deployed in Hanford and Lemoore. 

Visalia Transit is partnering with TCRTA and KART to deploy two zero-emission buses on route 15 between Hanford and Visalia, providing more frequent and regular service to all riders. This includes those connecting with Amtrak San Joaquins’ rail service in Hanford and future high-speed rail passengers in Kings and Tulare counties.

This funding is part of the fifth cycle of the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) grant that launches a period of historic investment to improve and expand public transportation in California. It also positions the state to compete for significant new federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In addition to the grant, the recently enacted 2022-23 California State Budget includes $7.65 billion in TIRCP funding from the General Fund over the next three years. 

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