The California Air Resources Board approved a rule requiring fixed-route airport shuttles serving the state’s 13 largest airports to transition to 100% zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2035. The regulation applies to public and private fleets, including parking facilities, rental car agencies, and hotels.
With almost 1,000 airport shuttles in operation, the regulation is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons, with a beneficial economic impact for shuttle fleets owners of an estimated $30 million in reduced fuel and maintenance costs.
“Shuttles are a vital part of airport activity,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “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.”
Airport shuttles are particularly well-suited to zero-emission technology because they operate up to 200 miles per day on short, fixed routes with low average speeds in a stop-and-go pattern. Zero-emission shuttles are already operating throughout California. Six airports, as well as private businesses serving nine airports, have purchased ZEV airport shuttles. In addition to 48 ZEVs currently operating, nearly 100 additional zero-emission shuttles have been ordered, many of which have been awarded incentive funding through the state. Combined, on-order, and currently operating ZEV shuttles represent more than 15% of all airport shuttles in California, but increased adoption of these technologies is needed to meet air quality and climate goals.
Elsewhere in the country, major airports in New York City, New Jersey, Atlanta, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Raleigh, N.C., are deploying zero-emission shuttles. These projects also demonstrate the technological and market readiness of ZEVs for airport operations.
The rule will be phased in over a 13-year period. Beginning in 2022, shuttle fleets will be required to report the details of their vehicles. Starting in 2023, if fleets are replacing a ZEV shuttle, the replacement vehicle must also be a ZEV.
The rule starts with annual reporting to CARB in 2022, and will end in 2035 with a fully compliant, 100% ZEV airport shuttle fleet.
The schedule is designed to allow fleets to remain eligible for incentive funding during most of the transition period, and to use their current shuttles for the remainder of their useful life. It also provides adequate time for infrastructure planning and installation.
CARB staff will work with airport shuttle operators and stakeholders of other CARB zero-emission regulations to facilitate sharing of technology and implementation strategies.
The agency is also developing a proposal that would achieve additional emission reductions by requiring zero-emission airport ground equipment.
This story was originally posted on Metro Magazine.