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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

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. 

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