Photo: BYD
The K9S electric bus from BYD has a range of about 150 miles on a single charge.

California becomes first state to mandate zero-emission buses

Dec. 16, 2018
New regulation is a boost to the development of heavy-duty, all-electric vehicles.

The California Air Resources Board has approved a measure requiring public transit agencies in the state to transition to 100% zero-emission buses by 2040.

CARB’s “Innovative Clean Transit” regulation is the first of its kind in the United States and viewed as another boost to the development of heavy-duty electric vehicles. 

“A zero-emission public bus fleet means cleaner air for all of us. It dramatically reduces tailpipe pollution from buses in low-income communities and provides multiple benefits especially for transit-dependent riders,” said Mary Nichols, chair of CARB. “Putting more zero-emission buses on our roads will also reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases, and provides cost savings for transit agencies in the long run.” 

While CARB noted eight of the 10 largest transit agencies in the state are already operating zero-emission buses, there are only about 150 currently in operation in the state out of an overall fleet of 12,000 buses. 

"Their buses drive in stop-and-go traffic where conventional internal combustion engines waste fuel while idling. And their fleets run out of central depots where charging infrastructure can be installed and conveniently accessed,” CARB said.

Starting in 2023, a quarter of new buses purchased by transit agencies in California must be electric. By 2026, the requirement will rise to 50%, and in 2029, nearly all buses purchased will have to be fully electric. Throughout the transition, CARB said it will offer a variety of grant and credit programs. 

While natural gas proponents opposed to regulation, electric vehicle maker BYD issued a statement praising CARB's move. 

“We stand ready to deliver and make the transition to zero emission buses a reality,” said BYD President Stella Li. “Our Lancaster (CA) facility has the capacity to produce 1,500 buses and we have partnered with Generate Capital to make a leasing program available to accelerate this transition.”

BYD said it has delivered 79 all battery-electric, zero-emissions buses to transit authorities in California, with another 122 orders on the way. 

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry at our April 16th webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive pay...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!