California Air Resources Board Mandates 100% Zero-Emission Buses By 2040

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has unanimously approved a rule that will move the state towards the goal of a 100-percent zero-emission bus fleet by 2040.

Like most government programs, CARB’s Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation has a long timeline – the process of proposals, meetings and workshops that led to this week’s final approval has been going on since last June.

Under the ICT regulation, each of California’s major transit agencies will be required to submit a Zero-Emission Bus ZEB Rollout Plan by 2020 (for agencies with 100 or more transit buses) or 2023 (for agencies with fewer than 100). Requirements to purchase zero-emission (battery-electric or fuel cell) buses will be phased in – large transit agencies will be required to purchase only ZEBs after 2029.

California is home to several electric bus producers, including BYD and Proterra. Supporters of the new rule estimate that it will require the production of more than 14,000 new zero-emission buses.

Several California cities have already announced plans to convert their bus fleets to zero-emission vehicles.

“This is the first major regulation in the US for transitioning to zero-emission buses, and will serve as a model for other states and countries,” said Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California. “The current demand for clean buses has made California a hub for electric bus manufacturing. We have six factories or assembly facilities located here. This rule will create even more good-paying jobs across the state.”

“From disadvantaged community members choking on diesel and gas tailpipe fumes, to college students, to transit agencies like LA Metro, to bus riders, to doctors and nurses, to environmental advocates, Californians made it clear they demand zero-emissions buses in communities statewide,” said Adrian Martinez, Staff Attorney at Earthjustice.

“This is the biggest public transportation breakthrough since we switched from trolleys to diesel buses a century ago,” said Jimmy O’Dea, a Senior Vehicles Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Bus riders, bus drivers and anyone who has gulped the exhaust from a passing truck or bus knows we must do something about these vehicles. Electrifying them is a one-two punch: we reduce carbon emissions that worsen climate change and we clean up the air we breathe.”

“Moving to 100 percent clean buses, cars and trucks is the logical next step in California now that our state has committed to 100 percent clean electricity generation by 2045,” said Emily Fieberling of Environment California.