eBus | Toward Zero Emissions Transit: June 30
On June 30, the Greater Washington Partnership and Tysons Partnership hosted MetroNow’s fourth Bus Champions webinar, this time focused on progress and challenges in the move toward zero emissions transit. By converting our fleets to operate with zero emissions vehicles, public transit operators, including cities and school districts can reduce air pollution and improve health outcomes for riders of all ages. A shift to zero emission bus fleets presents key benefits to operators and riders: chiefly, improved reliability and reduced tailpipe emissions. Less time in the shop means more time in service, transporting riders where they need to go. These benefits can only be realized with the continued support of skilled maintenance staff.
Participants heard from agency and industry experts about progress in bus fleet electrification. Panelists included Karina Ricks, Assistant Administrator for Research, Innovation, and Demonstration at Federal Transit Authority (FTA), Circe Torruellas, Deputy Assistant Director for Bus Operations at District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Kate Staples, Manager of Electrification at Dominion Energy, and John Schiavone, Program Director at the International Transportation Learning Center.
Karina opened the seminar by sharing progress on efforts across the country for operators to electrify their fleets. John emphasized that skilled maintenance staff members who can support the reliable operations of zero emissions fleets are key to the transition. Training for both the current and future workforce is central to the Transit Workforce Center’s programming. Kate pointed to the contribution electrified bus fleets can make toward climate goals and discussed Dominion’s support for the electrification of school buses in Virginia. Circe connected DDOT’s current efforts to the broader social and environmental goals described in the 2018 Clean Energy DC Act, which establishes a requirement that 50% of the bus fleet be comprised of zero emissions vehicles by 2030. Circe shared that DDOT expects to reach this goal as soon as 2024.
Circe, John, and Kate all noted that the need for a growing pool of skilled maintenance staff and planning adequate charging and service infrastructure present some of the biggest barriers to fleet conversion. The panelists agreed that transit operators have much to gain from collaborating with other agencies on their electrification efforts, and that coming together to share best practices, in forums such as the Bus Champions webinar series, can help to hasten progress to zero emission bus fleets.