Los Angeles makes largest ZEV bus order in U.S. history

Source: By Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporter • Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2020

Los Angeles has purchased 155 electric buses in the country’s largest ever zero-emissions bus order, Mayor Eric Garcetti said yesterday.

“The clean transportation revolution is not a distant dream — it’s happening on L.A.’s streets right now,” Garcetti said in a statement. “Seeing these zero-emission buses rolling down our roads in the years ahead will bring us one step closer to realizing our vision of cleaner air, lower emissions, healthier communities, and a more sustainable future for all Angelenos.”

City officials expect the buses will hit the streets over the next two years. The $104 million order from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) advances goals set by Garcetti in an executive directive, dubbed “L.A.’s Green New Deal: Leading By Example.” It’s aimed at making the transportation department’s bus fleet emissions-free by the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic games (Climatewire, Feb. 11).

LA right now has four ZEV buses operated by LADOT. Another transportation operator in the region, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Metro, doesn’t have any. It recently ordered 105 ZEV buses.

A coalition that includes LA and other cities in LA County along with several carmakers, utilities and a clean-tech incubator wants zero-emission vehicles to make up 30% of cars in the county by 2028. Right now, for all of LA County, they make up 10%. That would mean 80% of new car purchases must be fuel-cell or electric by that year (Climatewire, Nov. 26, 2019).

The nation’s second-most populous city — home to more than 4 million people — is known as one of the most car-congested metropolises in the country. Garcetti’s directive looks to make biking, rail travel and bus riding more appealing. It seeks to give buses special lanes and priority at lights to quicken speeds 30% by 2028. He also wants numerous protected bike lanes.

Build Your Dreams (BYD) will make 130 of the buses, while Proterra will build the other 25. Both have plants in Southern California.

The new ZEV buses can go 145 to 200 miles on a charge. They have an expected 12-year life span. Over that period, the new fleet will cut greenhouse gas emissions an amount equal to the pollution from 88,000 cars in one year.

Garcetti is a leader of Climate Mayors, a group committed to taking steps to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Cities and counties in the new LA coalition agreed to pare greenhouse gas emissions an additional 25% beyond current amounts they’ve set.

LA Councilman Mike Bonin applauded the ZEV bus purchase.

“If we do not get off fossil fuels, we are killing our kids and their planet,” Bonin said. “Moving to a fleet of electric buses is an important step, and I’m glad to work with Mayor Garcetti and the Electric [Truck and] Bus Coalition to make it happen.”

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds said the ZEV buses would improve air quality and save the city money on fuel costs.

The announcement was made at LADOT’s bus maintenance yard, which features solar panel canopies and an EV charging infrastructure to plug in up to 70 buses. It’s one of the largest EV bus facilities in the state.

Money for the buses came in part from grants through the Federal Transit Administration, several state programs and matching city funds.