CALSTART report: Zero-emissions buses grew by 27% in the U.S. last year

In the last year, the number of zero-emission buses (ZEBs) in the United States increased 27%, according to a new report from CALSTART.

Most of those new 3,533 full-size zero-emission buses are clustered in a handful of states.

“Early adopters such as large transit agencies in California, New York, Florida, Kentucky and Oregon continue to lead, but still are not at scale. Smaller transit agencies and regions that are not familiar with zero-emission technologies need additional resources and effort to begin their transition,” said Jared Schnader, Director of Bus Programs at CALSTART.

CALSTART is a national nonprofit consortium that advances the clean transportation market in key industry sectors.

Most zero-emission fleets consist of 10 or fewer buses, according to CALSTART’s tally. 

The number of ZEBs is expected to increase with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which could allocate up to $5 billion for electric school buses over the next five years. The funding can “dramatically change health and air pollution impacts plaguing school children, bus drivers, and communities across the U.S. from the current overwhelmingly diesel-fueled fleet,” according to the report.

Industry readiness

California leads the country with the most full-size zero-emission buses, with Antelope Valley Transit Authority in the Los Angeles area operating the largest all-electric bus fleet in the country.  New York and Washington have the second and third largest totals by state. 

“The timing is right because the coming funding is aligned with industry readiness – every major manufacturer offers an ESB model available in the U.S.,” Schnader said. 

The demand for zero-emission buses comes from transit, school districts and U.S. airports. There was 35% growth in the purchase for full-size ZEBs at airports. 

CALSTART’s report also shows the increasing popularity of fuel cell electric buses. They more than doubled to 169 in 2021. NFI, for example, is supplying San Francisco’s AC Transit with 20 fuel cell electric buses. The advantage of fuel cell electric buses is a larger range.


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