Transportation leaders from the United States and China have announced the creation of the “Race to Zero Emissions,” a competition between cities in the two countries to determine which one will deploy the highest percentage of emissions-free buses by 2025. The race is designed to improve air quality in urban areas and prevent climate change.
At a conference in Los Angeles on June 3, United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Chinese Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang signed an agreement officially announcing the US-China Race to Zero Emissions (R2ZE). The market for zero-emission buses is starting to grow rapidly in both countries. A zero-emission bus is one that has no tailpipe emissions and runs on either electricity or hydrogen.
“This challenge will hasten the development of new and emerging technologies that will move us away from fossil fuels and race us closer to our ultimate goal of zero emissions, while creating good jobs and economic growth in both the United States and China,” said Secretary Foxx. “This is a win for both of our nations, and an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to deepen technical cooperation and our ties together in support of green-energy transportation objectives.”
“We are very excited about today’s announcement launching the race. CALSTART is eager to begin working with cities and transit properties that not only want to take full advantage of the advances in zero-emission bus technology, but also wanted to become part of a larger global effort to prevent climate change,” said CALSTART President and CEO, John Boesel.
In large part inspired by the successful federal “Race to the Top” education program in the United States, CALSTART developed the Race to Zero concept in 2014. In June 2015, Secretary of State Kerry announced that the Race to Zero had been endorsed in concept by the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group. Over the past several months officials from the two nations have been reviewing the race guidelines and criteria. The announcement represents the full endorsement of the concept and the official launch of the race.
Any city in either country will be eligible to participate in the competition. However, the minimum size of the fleet must be 200 or more buses. Two smaller transit properties can form a team and compete in the race if their combined fleet size is 200 buses or more. Potential participants can learn more on the challenge's website.
Federal funding for zero-emission buses increased significantly in the 5-year transportation bill approved by Congress in December 2015. The legislation dedicated $55 million annually for the purchase of zero or near-zero emission buses. In China, incentives for the purchase of zero-emission buses are provided by both the national government and many of the larger cities. In the United States, there are now more than five different firms producing zero-emission transit buses. In the past two years, zero-emission buses have been purchased by a wide array of transit districts including ones in Kentucky, Texas and California.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is currently working on a strategy that will increase the number of zero-emissions buses throughout the state. Many California cities have embraced the technology and are eagerly pursuing it. In response to a $24 million funding opportunity for zero-emission buses and trucks in January, the CARB received more than $250 million in proposals. Among the California cities and transit properties deploying zero-emission buses in quantity are SunLine Transit, AC Transit, Foothill Transit, and the San Joaquin Regional Transit District.
“The Race to Zero Emissions is an exciting new bi-national competition that will encourage innovation and accelerate the development of zero emission buses, and, ultimately, trucks,” says Richard Corey, Executive Officer of the California Air Resources Board.
CALSTART is working under contract with the U.S. Department of Transportation to support the Race to Zero Emissions (R2ZE). Entrants in the competition will be able to take part in annual meetings and able to learn about the latest developments in electric bus and charging technology in both the United States and China.