electric bus
electric bus

You might recall a report that was published about a month ago that indicated that climate change could have devastating impacts.  States and cities are now scrambling to find ways to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten their air quality, but also their economies.  What shouldn’t be a surprise is the fact that California is leading the charge in this regard.  Yesterday, they became the first state to mandate that mass transit agencies need to purchase fully electric buses only starting in 2019.  Further, they are also indicating that public transit routes should be populated by electric buses alone by 2040.  Which means, cities in California now have to buckle down and come up witha 20 year planning strategy for new infrastructure.

Sure, you’re probably thinking – 20 years is a long time for planning.  but think about it in terms of the buses themselves.  What routes are they currently taking now?  How can they accommodate an electric bus on that route?  There are many things to take into consideration and if I’m being honest 20 years might not be long enough for the kind of infrastructure planning that will need to take place.

All that said, I think it’s a fantastic idea.  This new rule is expected to require the production and purchase of more than 14,000 new zero-emission buses in the state of California, alone.  Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air and Resource Board (CARB) that voted unanimously to make California the first state with such a commitment, told the outlet Trucks.com earlier this month that California has “to push standards that are more progressive” than the federal government because of the state’s chronic air pollution, which is linked to asthma and heart disease, among other things.

That may be true, but the fact is that the Federal Government should be doing something about this too.  There are other places in the United States where air pollution is a problem, so it shouldn’t be left to individual states to push to make an impact.  This particular move is reportedly a result of the several years of CARB’s work with industry and public-health groups.  And as we know, this directly flies in the face of moves that are being made by Donald Trump’s administration to push for lower fuel efficiency standards and to promote the use of fossil fuels. 

Yes – the Trump administration has questioned from the outset how much the U.S. is responsible for cutting back emissions, and the newest government report seemingly didn’t alter anything for the President. Asked last month about the government’s findings that, unchecked, global warming will have catastrophic implications for the U.S. economy, he said, “I don’t believe it.” He added: “People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers.”  I am not going to touch that one, but I will say this – climate change is a problem. Donald Trump can say that he doesn’t believe it, but the fact remains that the world is getting warmer, and we aren’t prepared for that.  

The move could be a boon for electric bus companies like Proterra, a 14-year-old, Burlingame, Ca., company that has raised roughly half a billion dollars from investors to build its zero-emission, battery-electric buses. This is definitely one way to meet demands of the changing world, while still attempting to boost the U.S. economy.  It’s definitely a win-win, but not everyone sees it that way.