The second-biggest city in the United States is driving to the front of the clean transit movement and blazing a trail for cities all across the country.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors voted today to convert its entire fleet of buses to electric vehicles by 2030.
“Metro has been a leader in moving to cleaner fuels for its bus fleet for years. Now, electric buses are here and ready to roll,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “That means no gasoline, no dirty oil changes, no internal combustion engine and no dirty exhaust.”
Several factors, including encouragement from Environment California Research & Policy Center and its environmental, public health and labor partners, led to the board’s vote. The California EPA’s Air Resources Board (CARB) is weighing an “Innovative Clean Transit” regulation that would shift purchase requirements to zero emission in 2030 and transition the statewide fleet of mass transit buses to zero emission in 2040.
“For every compressed natural gas bus that we replace with a clean, electric bus, we save up to 170,000 pounds of carbon emissions each year. With over 2,200 buses in operation, Metro can save more than 382 million pounds of carbon annually with a 100 percent electric bus fleet,” Kinman said.
The Metro board’s vote will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut down the air pollution that’s been a major health -- and image – problem for southern California for decades. More than 5,000 people in the Los Angeles metropolitan area die prematurely each year from air pollution-related conditions, according to a 2011 report from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and CARB. That’s more than from traffic accidents and violent crimes combined, the SCAQMD/CARB study says.
Beyond improving the quality of life for the 9.6 million people who live, work, play and breathe in the L.A. region, electric buses are cost-competitive over the life of the vehicle and they’re made in Los Angeles, which KCRW recently called the “Detroit of electric buses.”
The decision in favor of electric buses signals to transit agencies around the country that, even as the Trump administration and its allies put the brakes on fighting climate change, Los Angeles is accelerating toward a clean energy future.
Other cities are getting on board, too. New York, Seattle and Albuquerque are among the larger cities to announce this year that they’re either purchasing or leasing new electric buses.
“The LA Metro board bravely stood up to pressure from the natural gas industry and made the right decision for southern Californians,” said Kinman. “We’d especially like to thank the five leaders who authored this motion: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. Councilmember Mike Bonin, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn and Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian. Their forward-thinking solution to one of Los Angeles’ most pressing problems will pay environmental, economic and public health dividends for years to come.”