California’s transit agencies have long-been enthusiastic partners in the state’s efforts to improve air quality and achieve ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions. In the 1990s and early 2000s, California’s transit agencies overwhelmingly adopted clean near-zero emission transit buses, operating on alternative fuels, like compressed natural gas and renewable natural gas. Today, many transit agencies are deploying even cleaner zero-emission transit buses (ZEBs) that rely on battery-electric and/or hydrogen fuel cell technologies. Soon, all transit agencies in California will be required to demonstrate ZEBs — and ultimately, transition to fully electrified transit bus fleets — to comply with the Innovative Clean Transit regulation, adopted by the California Air Resources Board on December 14, 2018.
Unfortunately, as transit agencies work to clean their transit bus fleets, they have often found that the costs of purchasing ZEBs, building the infrastructure necessary to deploy them, and procuring electricity to operate them exceed their expectations and threaten their ability to provide robust transit service. Rather than shy away from the technology and the requirements of the ICT regulation, transit agencies are leaning into it, and advocating, through the Association, for support from the State Legislature, the California Air Resources Board and the California Public Utilities Commission to methodically address the barriers to transit electrification. At the same, the Association is working every day to ensure our members have the educational, technical and professional resources they need to deploy ZEBs and bring them to scale.
With the right support and resources, we believe transitioning California’s entire transit bus fleet to zero-emission is achievable by 2040.