Article written by Emma Bast. Photo by Emma Bast.

Vice President Kamala Harris advocated for clean energy public transportation in connection with union jobs at a conference Thursday. 

Vice President Kamala Harris came to the New Flyer of America facility in St. Cloud Thursday. With workers from New Flyer and key members of the community in attendance, speakers highlighted how the move to electric vehicles helps in the recent labor boom in light of more funding being placed toward carbon-free transportation.  

The New Flyer factory builds buses that are used nationwide. Buses from St. Cloud, New York, and Los Angles were represented, using a newly designed battery to allow for clean emissions. New Flyer is a partner of Metro Bus, who provides services to St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, and Waite Park areas. Currently, 67% of their fleet is powered by CNG fuels, a fuel that is considered low emission.  

At the conference, Vice President Kamala Harris was greeted by a standing ovation as she walked to the podium following representatives from New Flyer, the Communication Workers of America union (CWA), Mayor Dave Kleis, and Attorney General Keith Ellison. The speakers highlighted how St. Cloud is moving toward a carbon-free future that is creating jobs for those in the community.  

Vice President Kamala Harris talked about the work that is being done by the Biden Administration to continue to fund the move to carbon free transportation. 

“Since taking office, … we have invested over $5.5 billion to put thousands of new electric transit buses on the streets of our nation,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Attorney General Keith Ellison also highlighted the funding added for the public transportation system.  

“Vice President Harris in particular, has demonstrated long standing leadership in tackling the climate crisis, in particular, on electric buses, both transit and school buses. Including in 2019, introducing the first bill to focus on electrifying the nations school bus fleet,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison in an introduction speech. 

Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the importance of clean public transportation, citing health problem that are related with the standard bus emissions.  

“Everyday millions of Americans ride the bus to go to work, to school, to go to church, the grocery store, wherever they need to get. America’s buses get people where they need to go,” said Vice President Harris.  

The Vice President appeared excited about the new buses, citing that they have both Wi-Fi and USB outlet to charge devices. She also cited their ability to lessen the cost of public transportation costs that can be invested back into the community and provide better service through the buses. 

In 2022, MnDOT sponsored Greater Minnesota Transit Grants. These grants were meant to help fund more electric buses for the general public and for schools. MnDot received a grant last year to help purchase battery powered buses and fund training to maintain them. Funds are also going to update rural bus routes. 

At the national level, approximately $1.7 billion of funding was dedicated to support efforts to improve public bus transportation for the year 2023 by the Federal Transportation Administration. 

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