California Air Resources Board Passes the Innovative Clean Transit Measure, the First Statewide Zero Emission Mandate in the U.S.

December 14, 2018 – The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation with a unanimous vote in favor, requiring state public transit agencies to transition to 100 percent zero-emission buses by 2040. The ICT is the first statewide zero emission mandate to be adopted in the U.S. and marks a significant milestone for public transit, zero emission vehicles, and the state of California – securing the state’s position as a global leader on emissions and climate change mitigation measures. Representatives from environmental NGOs, industry organizations and members from the Californians for Zero Emissions Vehicles (CalZEV) testified in favor of the measure at a public hearing in Sacramento.

The ICT measure offers Californians a clear path forward to achieving important air quality, climate action, public health, and economic development goals by accelerating the adoption of zero-emission electric buses across the state.

Emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, such as transit buses, are one of the largest sources of toxic air pollution in the United States. In California, heavy-duty vehicles are the single largest source of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and produce more particulate matter (PM) than all of the state’s power plants combined. Deploying battery-electric buses will significantly reduce air pollution in disadvantaged communities statewide, whose residents disproportionately suffer from pollution-linked public health issues, including incidences of asthma, heart disease and premature death.

“Adoption of the ICT is a key component of California’s policy portfolio of solutions, and it enables a transition to zero emission buses to protect public health, our air quality, climate goals, and local jobs,” said Urvi Nagrani, Director of Business Development, Motiv Power Systems and CalZEV member. “At Motiv, we know firsthand how essential good policy has been to supporting deployments of sustainable solutions and advancing the sustainable technology ecosystem in California, which is why we commend CARB for passing this essential rule for California’s public transit. This rule sets a foundational framework to move away from fossil fuels, and we encourage CARB to expand this approach to school buses, work trucks, and other vehicle types.”

Cities continue to set ambitious goals to move fleets to 100 percent electric because the electric bus solutions on the market today are simply better: more economical over the lifetime of the vehicle, higher performing and environmentally sustainable. In California, a number of cities, including Los Angeles, Stockton, and San Jose have made independent zero-emission vehicle commitments. Earlier this year, 35 mayors from across California signed a letter of support urging CARB to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission vehicles. Across the U.S., more than twenty U.S. public transit agencies have already made 100 percent zero-emission fleet commitments, and over 60 percent of states have battery-electric bus programs in operation or plans to begin service.  

With nearly 9,000 buses expected to transition to zero-emission, California’s economy and job growth is anticipated to expand as many zero-emission manufacturers are located in the Golden State. According to the American Public Transportation Association, every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns, and every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs. 

“We applaud the California Air Resources Board for its leadership in taking this pivotal step in the fight for clean air and to combat climate change. With thousands of buses anticipated to transition to 100 percent zero-emissions, the beneficial impacts of this regulation on California’s air quality, public health, and economy will set the tone for the state, the nation and beyond. We recognize there will be hurdles as transit agencies move to zero-emissions, and our members look forward to continuing to work with transit agencies to overcome these hurdles, as they transition their fleets,” said Hannah Goldsmith, CalZEV spokesperson and CalETC Deputy Executive Director. 



Transitioning to 100% zero-emission buses across California is good for our cities, good for our state, and good for the planet. California has always been at the forefront of environmental innovation. By converting our bus fleets to electric vehicles, we can improve our air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and fight back against rolling back environmental policies.
— San Francisco Mayor London Breed

In order to achieve California’s climate goals, we need more electric cars, trucks and buses on the road. Manufacturing these electric buses in California creates good jobs and cleans up the air.
— California Governor Jerry Brown

California-based Zero-Emission Bus Manufacturers


U.S. Public Transit Agencies Set 100%  Battery-Electric Bus Fleet Goals

In addition to the signatories in the letter, over twenty U.S. public transit agencies have already made 100% zero-emission fleet commitments, and over 60% of states have battery-electric bus programs in operation or plans to begin service. In 2015, Seneca, South Carolina became the world's first city to run an entire 100% zero-emission bus fleet, and has been in operation since. In 2016, Foothill Transit, a 361-bus fleet servicing passengers within the San Gabriel Valley, including express bus routes to Pasadena and Downtown Los Angeles, made a commitment to fully electrify its fleet by 2030. AVTA also made a commitment to convert its 85-bus fleet to battery-electric buses by 2018. In December 2017, LA Metro, a 2,200 bus fleet, followed with a similar commitment to convert all its vehicles to battery-electric buses by 2030. This transition in Southern California will result in one of the heaviest concentrations of electric buses in North America.

Given the combined benefits of zero-emission buses, a growing list of fleets across North America have already planned to go 100 percent zero-emission, including twelve California public transit agencies listed below. In Los Angeles County alone, LA Metro, LADOT, AVTA and Foothill Transit will go all-electric. 

  • Anaheim Resort Transportation - 2019/2020

  • Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) - 2018

  • Foothill Transit - 2030

  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) - 2030

  • Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) - 2030

  • Porterville Transit - 2025

  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) - 2035

  • San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) - 2025

  • San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) - 2033

  • Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) - 2033

  • Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit Districts (Metro) - 2040

  • Santa Monica Big Blue Bus (BBB) - 2030

Electrifying buses is a big step forward in the local and global fight against the worst impacts of climate change. Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for electric buses are more than 70 percent less than the emissions from the diesel and natural gas buses currently on the road. The mayors’ support of zero-emission buses is another reason why CARB should require California public transit agencies to purchase 100 percent zero-emission buses by 2029.
— Dr. Jimmy O’Dea, senior vehicles analyst, the Union of Concerned Scientists

Tweet @Cal4ZEV and your local transit authority with #FreedomToBreathe #FutureIsElectric