Over 35 California mayors, including the mayors of Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, have signed an open letter to the California Air Resources Board urging the agency to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission buses. In September, CARB is due to vote on a proposal called the Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) measure, which includes support for electric buses. (Several of the cities, as well as cities in other states including Seattle and New York, have already committed to 100% zero-emission bus goals.)
The mayors’ letter reads, in part:
“Pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, such as transit buses, is one of the largest sources of toxic air pollution in California. Studies from ARB and public health experts have linked this pollution, which includes nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, to adverse effects on almost every organ system in the body.
“We have the technology to address the significant health impacts related to heavy-duty vehicle pollution. With ranges over 200 miles, zero-emission buses are well suited to meet the needs of our cities’ bus routes. And thanks to savings on fuel and maintenance expenses, the total cost of owning and operating these buses are increasingly competitive with conventional-fueled buses. In California, there are already more than a dozen manufacturing companies making batteries and bodies for battery and fuel cell electric buses and trucks. A strong regulatory signal from ARB would spur increased production and competition, and continue to lower the purchase price of zero-emission buses. Additionally, electrification helps generate high-quality jobs, skilled training opportunities, and new investments in California’s economy.
“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. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, battery powered electric buses on today’s grid in California have 70 percent lower global warming emissions than diesel and natural gas buses, and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses have 50 percent lower emissions than diesel and natural gas buses.
“The market and demand for electric buses is rapidly growing. There are 39 transit agencies with over 130 buses in California, and more than half of them are either operating zero-emission buses or have them on order. A growing list of agencies are planning to go 100% zero-emission, including Los Angeles, the largest fleet on the west coast.
“In addition to the public health and global warming benefits, zero-emission buses can also help boost transit ridership, as they provide a better experience by operating more quietly, smoothly, and cleanly than conventional-fueled buses.”