04 Jun 2017


In China, cities are ordering electric buses by the thousand. So why are US cities still piddling around with pilots of a few buses?

“The time for pilot programs should be in the rear-view mirror,” writes Gina Coplon-Newfield, Director of the Sierra Club’s Electric Vehicles Initiative, in a recent article. “These buses have been tested over the last several years, and dirty diesel and natural gas buses are part of the reason urban air quality is so bad and climate emissions are so high.”

In California, the transition to electricity is well under way. The Antelope Valley Transit Authority has announced a goal of a 100% electric bus fleet by 2018. Foothill Transit has committed to fully electrify its fleet of 361 buses by 2030. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently asked his city’s transit agency, L.A. Metro (which operates over 2,200 buses) to do the same. Other cities planning serious purchases include Seattle (120 new electric buses), Philadelphia (25 buses) and Miami (33-75 buses). With all this going on, the recent announcement by the New York City transit agency, MTA, of a three-year pilot program to test 10 electric buses is not quite impressive. For the largest transit agency in the US, with more than 5,800 buses, this decision is weak. Representatives of 100 small businesses sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and other leaders of the MTA, urging the agency to buy 200 zero-emission buses and hundreds of electric cars (for repair vehicles, etc.) by 2019, and to commit to making all bus purchases zero-emission by 2030.

The time is now ripe to go all in on zero-emission buses – with commitments that move toward 100% electric buses, writes Coplon-Newfield. “If San Bernardino County, Seattle and Eugene, Oregon can do it, then so can New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and every small and large transit agency in between.”


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