The California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved a rule that will require fixed route airport shuttles serving the state’s 13 largest airports to transition to 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The regulation applies to public and private fleets, including parking facilities, rental car agencies and hotels.
With almost 1,000 airport shuttles in operation, ARB expects the regulation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons. ARB also projects a beneficial economic impact for shuttle fleets owners of an estimated $30 million in reduced fuel and maintenance costs.
Airport shuttles are particularly well-suited to zero-emission technology because they operate up to 200 miles per day on short, fixed routes with low average speeds in a stop-and-go pattern. Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) have an advantage over internal combustion vehicles in terms of energy and fuel efficiency, as well as maintenance costs, when operating in this way.
The shuttles are also centrally maintained and fueled, which presents opportunities for overnight and mid-day charging. As the technology evolves, costs and performance will continue to improve, making adoption easier, ARB says.
Zero-emission shuttles are already operating throughout California. Six airports as well as private businesses serving nine airports have purchased ZEV airport shuttles.
In addition to 48 ZEVs currently operating, nearly 100 additional zero-emission shuttles have been ordered, many of which have been awarded incentive funding through the state.
Combined, on-order and currently operating ZEV shuttles represent more than 15% of all airport shuttles in California. However, increased adoption of these technologies is needed to meet air quality and climate goals, ARB warns.
The rule will be phased in over a 13-year period. Beginning in 2022, shuttle fleets will be required to report the details of their vehicles. Starting in 2023, if fleets are replacing a ZEV shuttle, the replacement vehicle must also be a ZEV.
The rule starts with annual reporting to CARB in 2022, and will end in 2035 with a fully compliant, 100% ZEV airport shuttle fleet.
The schedule is designed to allow fleets to remain eligible for incentive funding during most of the transition period, and to use their current shuttles for the remainder of their useful life. It also provides time for infrastructure planning and installation.
CARB staff will work with airport shuttle operators and stakeholders of other CARB zero-emission regulations to facilitate sharing of technology and implementation strategies.
CARB’s economic analysis of the rule concludes that zero-emission shuttles, like most new technologies, may have a higher upfront cost, but they have lower operating costs than their internal combustion counterparts which are expected to be offset within the first eight years of operation and potentially shorter if owners take advantage of incentive opportunities.
The regulation is expected to yield cost savings of $30 million to airport shuttle operators from 2020 to 2040 due to reduced fuel and maintenance costs, including the use of low carbon fuel standard credits for electricity.
CARB is also developing a proposal that would achieve additional emission reductions by requiring zero-emission airport ground equipment.