The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) announced the launch of its zero-emissions bus pilot program on Monday.
The 18-month pilot program, which begins Nov. 4, will deploy eight electric buses on select MTS routes.
MTS will use the pilot period to analyze vehicle performance under various conditions, including different climates, routes, passenger loads, and driving characteristics.
MTS will also train all bus operators on the most efficient driving habits.
“It’s a very proud day for MTS,” MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski said at Monday’s event. “For our leadership, for our dedicated zero-emissions operations team, our drivers, mechanics, and service personnel.”
Currently, all of MTS's 40- and 60-foot fixed route buses are fueled by compressed natural gas. The new battery electric technology will eliminate tailpipe emissions by 100%.
“We can’t make progress on reducing greenhouse gases without transforming the transportation sector,” said Estela de Llanos, SDG&E Vice President of Clean Transportation, Sustainability & Chief Environmental Officer.
California state regulations require public transit agencies to gradually transition to 100% zero-emissions bus fleets by 2040. This program will allow MTS to begin this process.
Representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) also spoke at the event, voicing their excitement for the job opportunities green energy will create in San Diego.
“Electric transit engineering and maintenance is a fast-growing career field and our members embrace the opportunity to acquire new skill sets that drive the economy, our communities, and our climate action goals,” said IBEW Local 465 Business Manager Nate Fairman.
Along with additional speakers, the event displayed the new buses and their charging equipment, with one bus’ hood open to display its electric system. Attendees could hop on a bus for a test ride.
“These buses represent a strong step forward to a cleaner, greener, better-connected transit system in San Diego,” said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who is Chairman of MTS and also serves on the California Air Resources Board.
“It is pushing us towards a greener future.“