The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the Innovative Clean Transit regulation, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the U.S. that sets a statewide goal for public transit agencies to gradually transition to 100% zero-emission bus fleets by 2040. “A zero-emission public bus fleet means cleaner air for all of us. It dramatically reduces tailpipe pollution from buses in low-income communities and provides multiple benefits especially for transit-dependent riders,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols.
As longtime partners for clean air in California, the state’s 200 public transit agencies play a pivotal role in transitioning vehicle fleets to zero-emission alternatives. Eight of the 10 largest transit agencies in the state are already operating zero-emission buses, including hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Full implementation of the regulation is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19 million metric tons from 2020 to 2050 – the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off the road. And it will reduce harmful tailpipe emissions (NOx and particulate matter) by about 7,000 tons and 40 tons respectively during that same 30-year period.
Deployment of zero-emission buses is expected to accelerate rapidly in the coming years – from 153 buses today to 1,000 by 2020, based on the number of buses on order or that are otherwise planned for purchase by transit agencies. Altogether, public transit agencies operate about 12,000 buses statewide.
To successfully transition to an all zero-emission bus fleet by 2040, each transit agency will submit a rollout plan under the regulation demonstrating how it plans to purchase clean buses, build out necessary infrastructure and train the required workforce. Agencies will then follow a phased schedule from 2023 until 2029, by which date 100% of annual new bus purchases will be zero-emission. To encourage early action, the zero-emission purchase requirement would not start until 2025 if a minimum number of zero-emission bus purchases are made by the end of 2021.