Via the East Bay Times:
California could be rolling all electric buses by 2040
Despite worries about how well environmentally friendly electric buses will withstand the pounding of everyday traffic, the California Air Resources Board will hold the first of two hearings Friday on committing to begin transitioning to a full fleet of zero-emission buses in two years.
Northern California agencies already testing the clean-burning vehicles include AC Transit, MUNI, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Monterey-Salinas Transit with SamTrans joining the list next year.
The message is clear. This will be the green light of an electric revolution for public transit with the goal to have only electric buses on all city streets by 2040. . . .
Added SamTrans spokesman Dan Lieberman: “Our board has stated that we’ve purchased our last diesel bus.”
There are 130 electric buses being tested statewide. MUNI hopes to beat the 2040 mandate by five years. VTA is running electric buses on Line 10 also known as the Airport Flyer. The VTA will likely not purchase any bus using diesel, natural gas or gasoline after 2027.
The cost of buying an electric bus can be $200,000 more than a diesel or hybrid. Setting up charging stations can add thousands more to the startup price tag.
But maintenance should be less and, of course, fuel costs zilch*. Chicago officials say each of its electric buses saves $25,000 a year. VTA’s fleet of five electric buses has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases by 1,266 tons per year. That’s the equivalent of about 350 passenger vehicles driven for one year.
About 65 percent of VTA’s bus fleet is diesel electric hybrids. By 2022, it plans to replace the remaining regular diesel buses with either hybrids or fully electric ones.
Funds are beginning to come in. The California Air Resources Board voted to invest $130 million from the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” settlement to purchase zero-emission transit buses, school buses and shuttle buses. And the California Public Utilities Commission made a $760 million investment in electric charging infrastructure. Los Angeles recently received a $36 million grant from the California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program to purchase 112 electric buses, and California’s $25 million Rural School Bus Pilot Project provides electric bus funding through cap-and-trade revenue.
But there are concerns. Will these buses get the mileage promised, will their batteries remain powerful for the 500,000 miles older buses cover over 12 years and will the doors work?
The Los Angeles Times found Southern California buses stalled on hills, required service calls much more frequently than older buses and had unpredictable driving ranges below promised distances, which were impaired by the heat, the cold or the way drivers braked. The first five buses sent to Los Angeles Metro were pulled off the road after less than five months of service.
The Monterey-Salinas Transit agency now operates an electric bus along Cannery Row and in October will have two more in Salinas. General Manager Carl Sedoryk said “zero-emission” buses have proven to have vastly different performances depending upon everything from local temperature, topography, length of routes, and even driver braking and acceleration habits. As such, transit operators must plan for the worst case range to avoid having a bus run out of power mid-route. . . .
Still, the effort to go all-electric is gaining momentum.
“San Jose purchased enough electric buses to completely convert its airport fleet months ago, while VTA has completed one procurement and will be embarking on more soon,” said VTA chairman and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We’re taking action well ahead of the talk.”
*No fossil fuel, but of course electricity has to be paid for.