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Calstart: US Zero-Emission Bus Fleet Grows Nearly 37 Percent Over Previous Year

By October 21, 2019

October 21, 2019

  • California, Washington, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina Lead Adoption

PASADENA, Calif. – America’s zero-emission bus fleet is growing, increasing nearly 37 percent since last year according to CALSTART’s annual accounting of electric and fuel cell transit buses in the United States. Zeroing in on ZEBs: The Advanced Technology Transit Bus Index identifies 2,255 such buses[1] in the United States. The report, which acts as an inventory of zero-emission buses (ZEBs) by state and region, finds that California (1016), Washington (211), Florida (142), Colorado (73), Illinois (73) and North Carolina (54) lead the nation in ZEBs.

“A nearly 37 percent jump over such a short time is remarkable considering the life-cycle of transit buses as well as the adjustments agencies make when upgrading to new, more advanced technologies,” said John Boesel, President and CEO of CALSTART, a clean transportation accelerator.”

“At a state and regional level, we can see innovation hotspots developing – clusters of activity where ZEBs and infrastructure are growing within certain fleets and breaking new ground in others,” Fred Silver, Vice President of CALSTART and the organization’s bus and mobility initiative lead.

Key findings from Zeroing in on ZEBs include:

  • More than half of the nation’s ZEB fleet is found in the Western United States in California, Oregon and Washington.
  • More than 200 transit agencies across the nation count ZEBs as a part of their fleet (or soon will) with than 60 transit agencies adding ZEBs to their fleets over the past year.
  • Ohio is a national fuel cell transit bus leader, with 12 such buses in that state’s fleet, representing half of the Buckeye State’s ZEBs. The only state with more fuel-cell transit buses is California, with 52.
  • This year, CALSTART counted 2,255 ZEBs, compared to 1,650 last year – a 596 vehicle increase. There are roughly 65,000 transit buses overall in the United States.
  • The top ZEB states are California (1016), Washington (211), Florida (142), Colorado (73), Illinois (73), North Carolina (54), Georgia (53), Indiana (44), New York (40), Texas (38) and Pennsylvania (37).

Many of the technologies used in ZEBs can be put into other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. For this reason, the ZEB market is considered a key foundational market in the zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty space with the power to contribute to the growth of other advanced zero-emission technologies.

“As ZEBs go, so goes a good portion of the medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission market. Electric shuttle and school buses, electric delivery vans, electric hostlers and others can all be powered by technologies developed and deployed first in ZEBs,” said Silver.

The early market growth tracked in this report is partially driven by programs and incentives like the FTA’s Low or No-emission Vehicle Program (FTA’s Lo-No) and the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). On average, the Lo-No project provides $85 million annually to help agencies purchase advanced technology transit buses. This market-driving activity for ZEBs can have additional impacts on other medium- and heavy-duty vehicle technologies.

“Funding from the FTA and the State of California is helping to address the initial high upfront cost of zero-emission buses. As more of these buses are deployed, and fleets understand the significant savings from lower maintenance and energy costs, we expect the need for incentives to decline,” said Boesel. “The increase in sales of zero-emission propulsion systems for buses will help make the core technologies more viable for the much larger trucking industry. The growth of this sector will position US component suppliers and manufacturers to compete globally in the fast growing zero-emission commercial vehicle market.”

CALSTART | Changing transportation for good

A national nonprofit consortium with offices in New York, Michigan, Colorado and California, CALSTART partners with 220+ member company and agency innovators to build a prosperous, efficient and clean high-tech transportation industry. We knock out barriers to modernization and the adoption of clean vehicles. CALSTART is changing transportation for good.

[1] The report tracks all buses known to be operating today, on order or pending order due to a recent funding grant.

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