California Provides Clean Transportation for Farmworkers

A new pilot project is providing California farmworkers with cleaner transportation to agricultural job sites.

The Agricultural Worker Vanpool Pilot project is funded by a $6 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) through California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts cap-and-trade dollars to work in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

CARB awarded the grant to the California Vanpool Authority (CalVans) to implement the project over the next two years. CalVans will deploy 154 new 15-passenger hybrid vans that will provide transportation to job sites in the San Joaquin Valley and other low-income agricultural areas of California.

The vans, retrofitted with add-on hybrid technology that reduces fuel consumption by 25%, meet a basic transportation need of agricultural workers and result in immediate emission reductions benefits within disadvantaged communities, says CARB.

The project expands CalVans’ San Joaquin Valley fleet by 60% for a total of 188 vans, serving agricultural workers in eight counties. Plans call for the remaining 77 hybrid vans funded under the grant to serve other low‑income and disadvantaged agricultural areas in the state, such as the Coachella Valley and Salinas Valley. All vans are set to deploy by early 2019.

“Barriers to accessing clean transportation options, such as access and awareness, are magnified for low‑income residents,” says Veronica Eady, CARB’s assistant executive officer, who is responsible for overseeing the agency’s environmental justice activities. “The vanpool project helps break down those barriers by providing workers access to vans that result in immediate air pollution-reduction benefits in disadvantaged communities while promoting increased understanding and acceptance of advanced-technology vehicles.”

CARB also recently awarded $108 million to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District as part of the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) program to reduce agricultural industry emissions. The program provides incentives for the replacement of old, high-polluting tractors and other agricultural equipment with the cleanest-available new equipment.

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