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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved the Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) Regulation that sets a statewide goal for public transit agencies to gradually transition to 100 percent zero-emission bus fleets by 2040.

The ICT regulation is part of a statewide effort to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, which accounts for 40% of climate-changing gas emissions and 80-90% of smog-forming pollutants. The transition to zero-emission technologies, where feasible, is essential to meeting California’s air quality and climate goals. Full implementation of the regulation will also reduce harmful tailpipe emissions (nitrogen oxides and particulate matter) by about 7,000 tons and 40 tons respectively from 2020-2050.

The state’s 200 public transit agencies play a pivotal role in transitioning vehicle fleets away from fossil fuel-powered technologies to zero-emission alternatives. Eight of the 10 largest transit agencies in the state are already operating zero-emission buses, including battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Transit agencies are well suited for introducing these technologies. Pollution and noise are of greater concern in large urban centers where buses waste fuel while idling. These Fleets run out of central depots where charging infrastructure can be installed and conveniently accessed.

Deployment of zero-emission buses is expected to accelerate rapidly - from 153 buses today to 1,000 by 2020. Altogether, public transit agencies operate about 12,000 buses statewide. To successfully transition to an all zero-emission bus fleet by 2040, each transit agency will submit a rollout plan under the regulation demonstrating how it plans to purchase clean buses, build out necessary infrastructure and train the required workforce. The rollout plans are due in 2020 for large transit agencies and in 2023 for small agencies.

Agencies will then follow a phased schedule from 2023 until 2029, by which date 100% of annual new bus purchases will be zero-emission. To encourage early action, the zero-emission purchase requirement would not start until 2025 if a minimum number of zero-emission bus purchases are made by the end of 2021.

Electrifying the heavy-duty transportation sector is supported by a range of government policies and programs. Public funding for zero-emission vehicles and related charging infrastructure is administered by CARB, the California State Transportation Agency, Caltrans, the California Energy Commission, and local agencies.

CARB will continue to work with transit agencies on a successful transition and conduct regular reviews of progress.