Metro buses stopped at a bus stop. Photo by John Schreiber.
Metro buses stopped at a bus stop. Photo by John Schreiber.

A new coalition of organizations is calling Thursday for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “get over the 90s” and convert to an all-electric fleet of buses by 2030.

The L.A. County Electric Bus Coalition said Metro is considering purchasing 1,000 new compressed natural gas buses but should make a stronger move toward electric in light of the Aliso Canyon gas leak in late 2015 that displaced thousands of Porter Ranch residents.

“It’s time for the Metro Board to lead again on bus technology and move to 100 percent renewable powered electric buses,” said Alexandra Nagy, a senior organizer with Food & Water Watch.

“When Metro last upgraded their bus fleet to natural gas, that was in 1997 — 20 years ago. Given how much we know about the dangers of natural gas due to the Aliso Canyon gas disaster, it’s time we move into the future with electric buses. It’s time for Metro to get over the 90’s and move to a 100 percent electric bus fleet.”

The coalition’s steering committee is comprised of EarthJustice, Environment California Research & Policy Center, Food & Water Watch, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11, Jobs to Move America, Sierra Club and South Bay Los Angeles 350 Climate Action Group.

The group made its announcement at a news conference outside Metro headquarters before a meeting of its Board of Directors.

Metro completed a full conversion to a natural gas fleet in 2011, but has made a number of significant moves toward electric buses over the last year.

In April 2016, the Metro board approved a motion seeking a plan for a zero-emission bus fleet, and in October moved to develop plans to convert its Orange and Silver lines to an all-electric fleet by 2020.

“Metro plans to move toward 100 percent zero emission buses as quickly as possible,” Metro’s Kim Upton said. “Achieving that goal is dependent on continued development of zero emission technologies and fiscal possibilities. But electric buses are just one promising approach. Metro is continuing to evaluate a number of zero emission technologies for our fleet.”

The Electric Bus Coalition said the buses reduce carbon emissions by up to 170,000 pounds per year compared with CNG buses and converting to them could help Los Angeles County meet the state’s 2030 and 2050 air quality and climate goals.

“Transit agencies around the country and the world are embracing electric buses,” said Michelle Kinman, a clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Metro has a tremendous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while cutting the air pollution that is poisoning our communities, improving the quality of life for the 9.6 million people who live, work, play and breathe in this region.”

—City News Service

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