The Phoenix Public Transit Department is paving the road towards a zero-emission bus fleet. This week, the Phoenix City Council voted to transition the City’s heavy-duty bus fleet to zero-emission models by 2040. This means that the City’s Public Transit staff has the green light to move forward with purchasing newer technology buses beginning in the first quarter of 2023 and evaluating future infrastructure needs.
“Phoenix is charting an ambitious timeline. At this rate, low- and zero emission buses will make up a third of our fleet in the next five years,” said Mayor Kate Gallego. “Reducing pollution on our roadways is crucial for our region’s air quality, and this effort must be matched with rapid decarbonization of the electric grid that powers these vehicles. Demonstrating success in our geography and climate will serve as a powerful model for communities across the country.”
“This week’s votes show just how far we’ve come as a city in the past year when it comes to clean transportation. A year ago, council was presented with a contract that did not consider low – or zero-emission options. This week, we passed one of the strongest zero emission transition plans in the country,” said Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari.
Phoenix Public Transit provides transit service to about half of the Valley (the Phoenix metropolitan area) with 48 total bus routes including local, commuter, and neighborhood circulator service. The department’s fleet is currently made up of 500 buses which operate on compressed natural gas or biodiesel.
“We’re excited to put these newer buses into our system and begin transitioning our fleet,” said Public Transit Director Jesús Sapien. “The region’s bus routes are the backbone of the transit system and adding these newer technology buses to the fleet will help us achieve our long-term goals for Phoenix and for the region.”
Not only is this move forward one of the most significant in the nation – as the City of Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the United States, it also supports federal infrastructure modernization and implementation of local plans including the City of Phoenix’s Climate Action and Transportation Electrification Action plans.
In August 2022, the Federal Transit Administration awarded the Phoenix Public Transit Department a $16.3 million grant for low- and no-emissions buses and supporting infrastructure. The grant is a catalyst for the department to begin transitioning its heavy-duty transit fleet to 100 percent zero emissions buses by 2040.
Currently, there is a 24-month production timeline on new bus technology, and staff will start ordering these newer buses in the first quarter of 2023. That means that some of these buses will hit the road in 2025.