LOS ANGELES — A new coalition of environmental groups, labor advocates and bus riders gathered at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) headquarters recently to launch a campaign calling on Metro to commit now to an all-electric fleet of buses by 2030.
By accelerating the integration of electric buses into its transit fleet, the coalition said, Metro can reduce pollution from the transportation sector while enhancing equity and spurring good union jobs and broader economic development.
The campaign launch comes as Metro is considering purchasing 1,000 new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, locking in nearly half of Metro’s fleet to continued dependence on polluting fuels.
Metro has a critical opportunity now to lead again, moving from still-polluting natural gas buses to all-electric buses, the coalition said.
“It’s time for the Metro Board to lead again on bus technology and move to 100 percent renewable powered electric buses,” said Alexandra Nagy, Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch.
“When Metro last upgraded their bus fleet to natural gas, that was in 1997 – 20 years ago! Given how much we know about the dangers of natural gas due to the Aliso Canyon gas disaster, it’s time we move into the future with electric buses. It’s time for Metro to get over the 90’s and move to a 100 percent electric bus fleet.”
Southern California struggles with the dirtiest air in the nation, missing deadline after deadline to comply with soot and smog standards. According to the coalition, electric buses reduce carbon emissions up to 170,000 pounds per year compared to CNG buses and electrifying the bus fleet can help Los Angeles County meet the state’s 2030 and 2050 air quality and climate goals.
“Transit agencies around the country and the world are embracing electric buses,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Metro has a tremendous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while cutting the air pollution that is poisoning our communities, improving the quality of life for the 9.6 million people who live, work, play and breathe in this region.”
Air pollution disproportionately impacts low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in the region, the coalition said. It said that transitioning to electric buses, which emit no pollution, can improve public health in urban communities.
“South Los Angeles is a community that consistently ranks high on poor health outcomes including high blood pressure and asthma rates, which are exacerbated by a series of social and economic factors from high poverty rates to general disinvestment in resources,” said Sonya Vasquez, Chief Program Officer of Community Health Councils.
“With over 30 Metro bus lines servicing South Los Angeles and the continued need to connect residents to resources, it is clear that there is a high need for a clean bus fleet to reduce further health disparities.”
Even with a higher upfront purchase cost of around $250,000 over a CNG bus, an electric bus can save operators approximately $400,000 on fuel and maintenance costs in its lifetime, the coalition said. Savings could be used by transit agencies to expand their electric vehicle fleet.
In addition, all electric buses have fuel efficiencies four times greater than diesel and CNG buses.
The coalition includes Earthjustice, Environment California Research & Policy Center, Food & Water Watch, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11, Jobs to Move America, Sierra Club and South Bay Los Angeles 350 Climate Action Group.
For more information, visit: 100percentelectricbuses.org.