Representatives from the California Bus Association (CBA) will recently met with regulators from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to address industry concerns.
The May 12 meeting was set up to discuss clean air rules and their impact on the motorcoach industry. The discussion was hopeful, according to Scott Michael, President and CEO of the United Motorcoach Association. He joined the virtual session with Ken Presley, UMA’s Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs and Industry Relations/COO.
The first topic was a follow-up meeting to further encourage CARB to adopt the same derate (inducement) schedule as in the final rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December that gives motorcoach operators more time to address problems with the emissions system and related sensors while ensuring the safety of passengers.
Phil Streif, from Vandalia Bus Lines, explained the issue and the industry’s proposed resolution. CARB appeared open to aligning with EPA for model year 2027 and beyond and will consider providing flexibility on retrofitting older model engines, having been aligned with EPA on previous model years.
CARB indicated it was aware of the issue and was considering options.
“We don’t want to get our hopes up but feel optimistic. After presenting our stories, facts, and data showing associated costs and dangers, CARB will implement a provision granting us more flexibility. It’s a common sense decision not to cripple a vehicle and put any lives at risk, and we hope CARB sees this as the EPA did in 2022 when finalizing their rule,” Streif said. “We appreciate CARB’s willingness to accept our requested meeting and work with industry professionals whom this impacts. Also, a big thanks to the full support of Ken and Scott at UMA and all the participating companies that have been involved.”
Industry representatives led by Chris Riddington, President of Classic Charter, explained the industry’s concern about the availability of CARB-compliant engines for 2024-2026, as covered in a UMA Town Hall meeting on May 11 with engine manufacturer Cummins.
“It was the first time since Covid-19 we had an issue regarding regulations that needed a discussion with CARB. It was nice to reconnect with CARB and their staff. CARB staff was aware of industry concerns regarding 2024 disparities in Nox standards between EPA and CARB. We had a good discussion to further our thoughts and understanding of our issues. Cautiously optimistic, we will continue to monitor and discuss with CARB as needed,” said Riddington, who serves as Chair of CBA’s CARB committee.
Questions about engine availability
During the UMA Town Hall, representatives from Cummins updated attendees on how the emissions regulations from EPA and CARB would impact engines used in heavy-duty commercial vehicles like motorcoaches.
California’s emission standards are more stringent than those established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As permitted by federal law, several states have adopted California’s restrictions or are considering doing so. Federal law requires two years notice when States adopt CARB regulations.
Oregon has joined California in adopting the restrictions for model year 2024, with Massachusetts one year behind and Washington and Vermont scheduled to do so in 2026. Pennsylvania is considering 2025 adoption, with New York looking at 2026 and Colorado and New Jersey considering applying the CARB rules to model year 2027.
The challenge with these timelines is that engine manufacturers like Cummins have said that engines that meet the 2024 CARB requirements will not be available until model year 2027.
UMA Members can watch the video of the UMA Town Hall discussion here.
Vandalia Coach’s Phil Streif advocates for industry with EPA