California’s Air Resources Board plans to force all the shuttles serving the state’s 13 largest airports to transition to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles.
But the regulatory agency is providing the companies that operate those shuttles a long period to make the switch. The deadline is 2035.
The regulation, approved last week, applies to public and private fleets. And it includes parking facilities, rental car agencies and hotels. That adds up to about 1,000 vehicles. CARB said it expects the move will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons from 2020 to 2040.
The agency estimates that shuttle operators will save $30 million from 2020 to 2040 compared with operating combustion engine vehicles. That comes from a combination of reduced fuel and maintenance costs, including the use of low carbon fuel standard credits for electricity.
“California continues its forward march toward a zero-emission future with airport shuttles presenting a great opportunity for showcasing this process,” said Richard Corey, CARB’s executive officer.
“The transition to zero emission shuttles not only provides consumers with clean, quiet transport but will help further expand the reach of this ultra-clean technology into the heavy-duty transportation sector,” Corey said.
Analysts see bus and shuttle services as one of the best applications for electric vehicles. The shuttles operate on a fixed route, returning to a central location where they can be charged.
These vehicles typically travel up to 200 miles per day, well within current battery capacity. They also drive at low average speeds in a stop-and-go pattern, which allows the shuttles to recover energy when they brake.
Some companies, including WallyPark at Los Angeles International Airport, are already making the transition. Six airports as well as private businesses serving nine airports have purchased zero-emission, or ZEV, airport shuttles, CARB said. That adds up to 48 zero-emissions shuttles already operating and there are another 100 on order.
Combined, on-order and currently operating ZEV shuttles represent more than 15 percent of all airport shuttles in California, the agency said.
The phase-in starts in 2022. Shuttle fleets will be required to report the details of their vehicles. Starting in 2023, if fleets are replacing a zero-emission shuttle, the new vehicle must also be a ZEV.
The schedule is designed to allow fleets to remain eligible for incentive funding during most of the transition period. It allows companies to use their current shuttles for the remainder of their useful life. It also provides time for infrastructure planning and installation.