Los Angeles to Transition to Electric Buses to Fight Climate Change

By Ayana Byrd Jul 28, 2017

Los Angeles is known as a city of cars, but officials just passed groundbreaking mass transit legislation. Yesterday (July 27), the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) voted to transition its fleet of more than 2,200 buses to zero emission electric buses by the year 2030.

“As the federal government moves backward, here in Los Angeles, we are moving forward,” Los Angeles city councilman and Metro director Mike Bonin said ahead of the vote, per the Los Angeles Times. “They are moving us into a dark past. We are moving into a bright future.”

In the first step toward meeting this goal, Metro also agreed yesterday to purchase 95 electric buses for $138 million from New Flyer of America Inc. and BYD. These buses, according to the Times, will run along two city routes that will be equipped with chargers in case bus batteries run low. The lines are expected to be ready beginning in 2020. Though these new buses will represent less than 5 percent of the total fleet, they will double the current number of electric buses in California.

The switch to electric buses will greatly benefit the city’s environmental efforts. According to Earthjustice, electric buses are an effective way to fight climate change. They are powered by 50 percent renewable energy, which means CO2 emissions are significantly lower than that of the current fleet.

Electric buses will also improve air quality in Los Angeles. Cleaner air will lead to fewer strokes, emergency room visits and asthma attacks for city residents. African American children in LA account for nearly a quarter of the city’s asthma cases—more three times the rate for White children.

“LA Metro’s decision to switch from fossil fuel, gas-powered buses to 100 percent clean, electric buses will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while cutting the air pollution that is poisoning our communities, and improve the quality of life for the 9.6 million people who live, work, play and breathe in this region,” the Los Angeles County Electric Bus Coalition said in a statement following the vote. The coalition includes various labor, environmental and public health groups, including Earthjustice, Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch—California.

LA Metro has the second largest bus fleet in the U.S. behind New York City. The decision to switch to electric buses is consistent with the state’s cap-and-trade program, legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Tuesday (July 25) that requires companies to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming.