Passengers exit the Route 11 bus of Mountain Metro Transit Monday, April 6, 2020, at the downtown Colorado Springs terminal. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Six Colorado transit agencies will receive $51 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration to decarbonize mass transit systems, including $34.8 million for a new bus depot for charging electric buses in Summit County.

The grants are the largest ever in Colorado for eco-transit systems.

“We are pleased to see the federal government investing in helping Colorado’s smaller and rural transit authorities electrify their fleets,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “These agencies play a critical role in providing sustainable, statewide mobility options for Coloradans, and their success competing for these grants demonstrates their national importance as well as providing some of the best rural transit in the country.”

The federal funds will be allocated to Summit County ($34.8 million), the Roaring Fork Transit Authority ($5.7 million), Mesa County ($3.9 million), the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transit ($2.6 million), Steamboat Springs ($2.4 million) and Vail ($1.8 million) to help support low- or zero-carbon public transit.

The $34.8 million allocated to Summit County’s transit agency will “help construct a new charging and operations facility” as the county transitions away from diesel-fueled buses, according to a news release. Summit Stage’s system covers the area around Dillon Reservoir and goes as far as Copper Mountain, Silverthorne, Keystone, Breckenridge and has commuter service to Lake and Park counties.

The transit agencies will use the grants to buy 27 vehicles, including 14 running on compressed natural gas, five diesel, three diesel/electric hybrid, three gasoline and two battery electric buses as well as infrastructure needed to recharge electric buses.

“Colorado is home to some of the best rural and mountain transit services in the country, and CDOT is proud to serve as their partner in competing for federal funds to support fleet electrification and improved service for Coloradans,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation.