California to phase in electric, fuel-cell transit buses: regulators

FILE PHOTO: The new fleet of electric buses for public transport manufactured by China's BYD, are parked in a bus terminal in Santiago, Chile November 28, 2018. Picture taken November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

SAN FRANCISCO – California air quality regulators voted on Friday to require that transit buses have zero emissions beginning in 2029, another step by the liberal-leaning state that sets it apart from the environmental policies of the Trump administration.

The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously on the proposal to ramp up the use of battery electric or fuel-cell buses until 2029, at which point all new transit buses will have to be zero-emission vehicles.

The move away from diesel buses will be a boon to companies such as Chinese automaker BYD , backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc and Silicon Valley startup Proterra Inc, which have bet that zero-emissions buses will eventually catch on.

Environmentals applauded the decision, while noting that California was already a hub for electric bus manufacturing.

“This is the first major regulation in the U.S. for transitioning to zero-emission buses and will serve as a model for other states and countries,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California.

California is the leader in setting strict environmental standards, a record that has put it conflict with federal regulators.

(Reuters – Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Paul Simao and Jonathan Oatis)