Sixteen mayors from across California recently sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to express their support for zero-emission transit buses and strong state action to accelerate deployment in their communities.
Representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Advanced Clean Transit Coalition – a coalition of environmental, public health, science, labor and vehicle technology groups – presented the letter to CARB officials last week. CARB is currently considering the Innovative Clean Transit rule, which would require zero-emission vehicles to make up at least 25% of transit agency bus purchases by 2020 and 100% of all new purchases by 2029.
“Not only can electric buses help California rise to meet our state’s public health challenges, but a swift transition to zero-emission buses will also help meet California’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030,” the mayors wrote. “A strong regulatory signal from CARB would spur increased production and competition and continue to lower the purchase price of zero-emission buses.”
The heavy-duty transportation sector, which includes transit buses, freight trucks and delivery trucks, contributes one-third of California’s smog-forming nitrogen oxides, the largest single source of this type of air pollution, and represents 7% of California’s global warming emissions, according to a press release from UCS.
“Transportation electrification is among the best tools we have to fight climate change, and converting buses is the tip of the spear,” says Jimmy O’Dea, senior vehicles analyst at UCS. “Because they have similar components, if buses can electrify, so can heavy-duty trucks.”
In the last two years, says UCS, seven California transit agencies have committed to 100% zero-emission bus fleets. These transit agencies – including Foothill Transit, Antelope Valley Transit Authority, San Joaquin Regional Transit District and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) – have committed about 3,500 buses, representing one-third of all transit buses in California, to be electrified by 2040 or earlier. These seven agencies bring the total number of California agencies already operating or that have zero-emission buses on order to 21, says UCS.
“The technology exists today to convert our bus fleets from fossil fuels to zero-emission technologies,” adds O’Dea. “Last year’s decision by LA Metro, the second largest bus fleet in the country, to electrify by 2030 added momentum to this statewide effort to reduce air pollution and defend against the worst impacts from climate change.”
The following California mayors, representing nearly 8 million people, signed the recent letter:
- Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Berkeley
- Mayor Michael Brownrigg, Burlingame
- Mayor Mary Salas, Chula Vista
- Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Encinitas
- Mayor Rey León, Huron
- Mayor Serge Dedina, Imperial Beach
- Mayor R. Rex Parris, Lancaster
- Mayor Racquel Vasquez, Lemon Grove
- Mayor Robert García, Long Beach
- Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles
- Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland
- Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento
- Mayor Sam Liccardo, San José
- Mayor Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara
- Mayor Michael Tubbs, Stockton
- Mayor Erik Nasarenko, Ventura
Both Oakland Mayor Schaaf and Imperial Beach Mayor Dedina represent cities that also filed lawsuits in state court last year against petroleum companies for climate change damages, notes UCS.