The California Air Resources Board on Friday approved the Innovative Clean Transit regulation (ICT) (earlier post)—a first-of-its-kind regulation in the US that sets a statewide goal for public transit agencies to gradually transition to 100% zero-emission bus (ZEB) fleets by 2040.
The ICT is part of a statewide effort to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, which accounts for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and 80-90% of smog-forming pollutants. The transition to zero-emission technologies, where feasible, is essential to meeting California’s air quality and climate goals.
Full implementation of the newly adopted 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. 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.
Eight of the 10 largest transit agencies in the state are already operating zero-emission buses, including battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
California transit agencies currently deploying or planning on deploying zero-emission buses.
Transit agencies are particularly well suited for introducing these technologies. They operate largely in urban centers, where pollution and noise are of greater concern. Their buses drive in stop-and-go traffic where conventional internal combustion engines waste fuel while idling. And their fleets run out of central depots where charging infrastructure can be installed and conveniently accessed.
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 transition successfully 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. The rollout plans are due in 2020 for large transit agencies and in 2023 for small agencies.
Agencies will then follow a phased schedule from 2023 until 2029, by which date 100 percent 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.
Transit agencies are expected to save $1.5 billion in maintenance, fuel and other costs by 2050 after the full buildout of infrastructure.
Electrifying the heavy-duty transportation sector is supported by a range of government policies and programs. Public funding for zero-emission vehicles and related charging infrastructure is administered by CARB, the California State Transportation Agency, Caltrans, the California Energy Commission, and local agencies.
In addition, utilities are supporting this transition with new electricity rate designs and investments in charging infrastructure. The Department of General Services is also streamlining bus purchases through a single statewide zero-emission bus purchase contract.
The CARB and the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) also announced a ZEB Technology Showcase and Symposium in Sacramento, 6-7 February 2019, to highlight and discuss the latest advances and funding opportunities for transit buses.
The Showcase and Symposium is geared to provide information on California’s current and future support for zero-emission transit buses to the broadest array of stakeholders, including transit agencies, air districts, metropolitan planning organizations, and regional transportation planning agencies, environmental groups, zero emission bus manufacturers, charging technology providers, fuel providers, electrical utilities, researchers, and venture funding interests.
The Showcase will feature the latest advances in all aspects of zero-emission bus technologies. The Symposium will provide participants and stakeholders with updated technical information on zero‑emission technologies, associated infrastructure and scale up options, operating costs and fuels, deployment planning, and funding sources.
The Symposium will cover topics on lessons learned to date on deploying zero-emission buses. Specific areas of interest to be covered will include: funding opportunities and utilization, moving from demonstration projects to scaled-up deployment, sustainable green jobs and workforce training, troubleshooting, using electricity as a fuel, hydrogen production and its fueling and cost, infrastructure footprint and scale up strategies, strategies to grow zero-emission fleet, best management on cost curtailment, and more.
Fleets and manufacturers currently building or operating zero-emission buses are invited to showcase vehicles, technologies, and innovations. This will include fleets, technology providers, utilities, and other related industries.
The Showcase also offers an opportunity to set up a poster or booth to display the newest technologies or breakthroughs in zero-emission transportation.