Oceanside CA— The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently awarded the North County Transit District (NCTD) $1.2 million to support the purchase of zero emission electric buses to replace diesel buses in the NCTD fleet.
According to the California Air Resources Board, the transportation sector accounts for 39% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California. In Southern California the percentage of GHG emissions from the transportation sector is even higher. In addition, recent studies have shown the degradation of air quality in San Diego County, culminating with the American Lung Association’s recent grade of “F” in air quality for the 2016 and 2017 “State of the Air” reports. Considering that transportation is both a major source of GHG emissions and a critical tool in reducing those emissions, it is recognized that advanced clean vehicles and fuels are needed to reduce petroleum use, to meet air quality standards, to improve public health, and to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goal.
Over the last two years, NCTD has been working to establish both public and private partnerships to support the implementation of zero emission bus technology. In Spring 2017, NCTD established a non-binding agreement with San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) that supported the submission of a proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that would support the installation, operations, and maintenance of charging infrastructure for NCTD. The proposal is currently pending with the CPUC and a decision is expected by the first quarter of 2019.
NCTD’s project was one of 139 projects across the country that the FTA selected as part of a competitive grant process under the FTA Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program. The FTA received more than 450 applications and awarded $264.4 million in funding.
“This award is a major step towards an even more environmentally friendly fleet,” said Matthew Tucker, NCTD’s Executive Director. “Many years ago, NCTD began reducing emissions by transitioning the vast majority of our BREEZE buses from diesel to primarily compressed natural gas; now, we will work towards incorporating zero emission bus technology in our fleet replacement and expansion plans.”
In addition to the FTA award and the potential infrastructure specified in the agreement between NCTD and SDG&E, NCTD is fortunate to be a recipient of the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP). LCTOP was established by the California Legislature in 2014 by Senate Bill 862 to provide operating and capital assistance for transit agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve mobility. NCTD is estimated to receive $1,610,043 (dependent upon carbon credit sales) in LCTOP funds and is proposing to the NCTD Board of Directors at the April 2018 Board meeting that the funds be used towards the purchase of five zero emission buses.
In the coming months, NCTD will initiate studies to assess the zero emission vehicles that are on the market, evaluate NCTD’s bus routes that could utilize the new buses, and determine facility improvements that are required to support zero emission bus operations. The partnership with SDG&E and funding from the LCTOP and FTA combined with the increased state transportation funding from Senate Bill 1 will enable NCTD to fund the implementation of zero emission buses that will support NCTD’s goal of providing safe, reliable, and efficient transportation service.