Santa Cruz METRO Board Approves Purchase of 57 Hydrogen-Powered Buses.
The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District’s (METRO) Board of Directors has given a unanimous nod for the procurement of 57 hydrogen-fueled, fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs). This decision, set to be the most extensive FCEB acquisition in North America, showcases METRO’s dedication to innovation, environmental responsibility, and a sustainable future.
“METRO has a long standing commitment of being an environmental partner to our community and now thanks to METRO Board and staff, we can further enhance this commitment with the largest single fuel cell electric bus purchase in North America,” said METRO Board Chair, Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson. “Making METRO a national leader in environmentally-friendly public transportation and a key environmental community partner.
The buses, scheduled for delivery in late 2024, comprise forty-eight 40 ft. units and nine 60 ft. articulated vehicles. The majority will serve the Watsonville area, echoing METRO’s pledge to employ zero-emission vehicles in this region.
The new vehicles will replace ageing compressed natural gas (CNG) and diesel buses, converting 59% of METRO’s fleet to zero-emissions. This will support the transition of 100% of METRO’s fleet to zero- emission technology years ahead of the deadline set in the state’s Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) Regulation.
Currently, 10% of METRO’s fleet is composed of zero-emissions buses (ZEB). This single purchase will jump that total to over 69%. Taken as a whole, converting over 69% of METRO’s CNG and diesel fleet to zero-emissions FCEBs will result in a total GHG emissions reduction of 1.2 million MTCO2e.
“METRO has set an aggressive goal to be 100% emissions-free by 2037,” said METRO CEO/General Manager Michael Tree. “The purchase of these buses is a vital piece of our climate action plan to meet the state of California’s clean energy mandates.”
In a related project, METRO will also construct a hydrogen fueling station to support the ZEB transition of the agency’s 94-bus fleet. Future upgrades to the hydrogen fueling station will allow enough capacity to support the zero-emissions fueling needs of local partner agencies and others.
The FCEB procurement is made possible, in part, through $20.4 million in grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s FY23 Bus and Bus Facilities program and a $38.6 million award from the California State Transportation Agency’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP). METRO has also applied for $27 million from the California Air Resources Board’s Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, which is administered by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
As a community partner prioritizing environmental preservation, METRO also runs the “One Ride at a Time (ORAT)” initiative. With ORAT, every METRO bus journey aids partners like the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Bay of Life Fund. By logging 25 rides, passengers can donate $10 to METRO’s chosen local environmental non-profits.
About Santa Cruz METRO
Founded in 1968, Santa Cruz METRO is committed to offering eco-friendly transportation throughout Santa Cruz County. Today, METRO operates 94 buses on 24 fixed routes and 32 paratransit vehicles. As METRO eyes the future, goals include increasing ridership to 7 million annual trips within five years, transitioning to a mixed fleet of hydrogen and electric vehicles, and augmenting affordable housing at METRO-owned transit centers to 175 units over the next decade.
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