Earlier this week, the California Air Resources Board voted to mandate that all transit agencies in California operate 100% zero-emission transit buses by 2040, and to use this transition to invest in workforce development training programs in manufacturing, infrastructure installation, and maintenance.
METRO spoke to Matthew Tucker, CEO of Oceanside, California’s North County Transit District, about his thoughts on the new mandate.
What is your reaction to the CARB rule and how will NCTD move forward to meet the zero-emissions timeframe?
Tucker: NCTD is supportive of state-wide and regional goals to improve environmental quality. Prior to CARB’s rule, NCTD was already advancing plans to implement Battery Electric Buses (BEB). NCTD has secured federal and state grants to procure six vehicles with plans to award a contract in 2019. NCTD has entered into a non-binding agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to support electric bus infrastructure. And, NCTD will recommend that the Board of Directors authorizes the award of a contract to a consultant at the January 2019 Board meeting to develop the design and construction plans for required infrastructure improvements at maintenance facilities and transit stations.
What are your concerns, if any, to the new rule?
NCTD is concerned about funding to implement the new rule and about the operational performance of BEBs. At this time, a BEB is roughly $900k while a CNG bus is $550k. NCTD currently has 51 BREEZE buses that have reached the end of their useful life — this number will jump to 84 in January. NCTD does not have funding to support the cost of replacing all of the CNG buses that have reached the end of their useful life. NCTD is also concerned about the operating range of a BEB, which is 200 miles compared to 350 miles for a CNG bus. Lastly, the cost of charging a BEB based on current utility rates exceeds the cost of fueling a CNG bus.
NCTD moves approximately 11 million passengers annually by providing public transportation for North San Diego County.
For more on the ruling and reactions from other California transit agencies, click here.