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CALSTART report shows 27% growth in full-size zero-emission buses in US to total 3,533

CALSTART published its annual inventory of zero-emission buses (ZEBs) “Zeroing in on ZEBs,” providing insight on the current state of ZEBs ahead of $5.25 billion in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s Low-No Program. The deployed number of full-size ZEBs has grown to 3,533 nationally—an increase of 27% since the 2020 count.

The report notes that most ZEB fleets are small—ten or fewer—so the coming funding will be instrumental in scaling fleets.

Early adopters such as large transit agencies in California, New York, Florida, Kentucky, and Oregon continue to lead, but still are not at scale. Smaller transit agencies and regions that are not familiar with zero-emission technologies need additional resources and effort to begin their transition.

—Jared Schnader, director of Bus Programs at CALSTART

California continues to lead in the deployment of full-size ZEBs, with New York and Washington rounding out the leaderboard in the totals by state. This year’s report also includes a breakdown of full-size and small buses, as small ZEB deployment increased by 51%.

Fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) appear to be gaining interest, with California and Massachusetts adding to their FCEB fleets and Texas and Washington transit agencies adopting FCEBs for the first time.

The 2021 total for FCEBs is 169, up from 87 in 2020. Long routes and operational needs can drive this choice as one FCEB can meet the operational needs of two battery-electric buses (BEBs). Additional factors such as infrastructure, cost, and owner/operator preference also influence the choice in technology.

Additional points in the report:

  • Airports have adopted 131 full-size and 119 small ZEBs. This increase represents 35% and 19% growth from 2020, respectively.

  • New York significantly increased its orders of full-size ZEBs, from 77 in 2020 to 195 in 2021, all of which are BEBs.

  • Of the 67 transit agencies that have small ZEBs, 22 only have one bus. Fifty-eight public agencies have four or fewer buses.

“Zeroing in on ZEBs” is based on data gathered primarily through local, state, and federal award documents, press releases, phone interviews, and validated via sales information from bus manufacturers. As there is no centralized accounting of ZEBs, and transit agency plans for adoption can shift and/or be delayed, it is important to note that figures contained in the report should not be considered static.


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