Santa Cruz METRO to purchase 57 New Flyer fuel cell electric buses; largest hydrogen bus acquisition in US
Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District’s (METRO) Board of Directors unanimously approved the purchase of 57 New Flyer hydrogen-powered, fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs). This procurement will be the largest acquisition of FCEBs yet in North America.
METRO expects to start taking delivery of the 57 new FCEBs in late 2024, which includes forty-eight 40' buses and nine 60' articulated buses. Most of these will be deployed in the Watsonville service area, which the agency has committed to serving fully with zero-emissions vehicles from this purchase.
The new vehicles will replace ageing compressed natural gas (CNG) and diesel buses, converting 59% of METRO’s fleet to zero-emissions. This will support the transition of 100% of METRO’s fleet to zero- emission technology years ahead of the deadline set in the California’s Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) Regulation.
Currently, 10% of METRO’s fleet is composed of zero-emissions buses (ZEB). This single purchase will jump that total to more than 69%. Taken as a whole, converting over 69% of METRO’s CNG and diesel fleet to zero-emissions FCEBs will result in a total GHG emissions reduction of 1.2 million MTCO2e.
METRO will also construct a hydrogen fueling station to support the ZEB transition of the agency’s 94-bus fleet. Future upgrades to the hydrogen fueling station will allow enough capacity to support the zero-emissions fueling needs of local partner agencies and others.
The FCEB procurement is made possible, in part, through $20.4 million in grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s FY23 Bus and Bus Facilities program and a $38.6-million award from the California State Transportation Agency’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP). METRO has also applied for $27 million from the California Air Resources Board’s Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, which is administered by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
In June, METRO committed to purchase the FCEBs from North American bus manufacturer New Flyer. In August, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved METRO’s request to purchase the FCEBs using 2023 TIRCP award funds.
Established in 1968, METRO’s mission is to provide environmentally sustainable transportation to Santa Cruz County. METRO directly operates county-wide, fixed-route and Highway 17 commuter service, with connections to Santa Clara County and Monterey Salinas Transit at our Watsonville Transit Center. The agency also operates ParaCruz paratransit service. Today METRO operates a fleet of 94 buses on 24 fixed routes and 32 paratransit vehicles.