OAKLAND, California, February 4, 2018 - Mayors from across California have written to the California Air Resources Board, CARB, expressing their support for zero-emission transit buses and strong state action to accelerate deployment of the clean buses in their communities.


Representing nearly eight million people, mayors of many of California's largest cities signed the letter, including: Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles; Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, Mayor Darrell Steinberg of the state capital Sacramento; and Mayor Sam Liccardo of San José, among others.


Representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists, UCS, and the Advanced Clean Transit Coalition, a coalition of environmental, public health, science, labor and vehicle technology groups, presented the letter to CARB officials late last month.



Electric transit bus on the road in 2013, in San Joaquin, California, a small city ahead of its time. Made by Proterra,
these buses were the first commercial production,fast-charge, battery-electric,
zero-emission buses
for revenue service in northern California.
(Photo courtesy San Joaquin Regional Transit District)


Currently, CARB is considering a new state regulation - the Innovative Clean Transit rule. It would require that all new transit agency purchases be zero-emission vehicles by 2029, and in the near term, be at least 25 percent of bus purchases by 2020.


The mayors wrote, “Not only can electric buses help California rise to meet our state’s public health challenges, but a swift transition to zero-emission buses will also help meet California’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.”


"A strong regulatory signal from CARB would spur increased production and competition, and continue to lower the purchase price of zero-emission buses,” the mayors said.


The heavy-duty transportation sector - transit buses, freight trucks and delivery trucks - puts out seven percent of California’s total global warming emissions. This heavy-duty freight sector contributes a third of California’s smog-forming nitrogen oxides, the largest single source of this type of air pollution.


Today's battery powered electric buses on the California grid emit 70 percent less greenhouse gases as compared to diesel and natural gas buses, says the UCS. Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses emit 50 percent less.


Both battery powered electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses emit no tailpipe pollution.


“Transportation electrification is among the best tools we have to fight climate change, and converting buses is the tip of the spear,” said Jimmy O’Dea, senior vehicles analyst at UCS. “Because they have similar components, if buses can electrify so can heavy-duty trucks.”


“The technology exists today to convert our bus fleets from fossil fuels to zero-emission technologies,” said O’Dea. “Last year’s decision by LA Metro, the second largest bus fleet in the country, to electrify by 2030 added momentum to this statewide effort to reduce air pollution and defend against the worst impacts from climate change".


In just the last two years, seven California transit agencies have committed to all zero-emission bus fleets by 2040 or earlier, bringing to 21 the total of transit companies already operating clean buses or that have zero-emission buses on order.


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)