Credit: Courtesy of VVTA
Credit: Courtesy of Santa Barbara MTD

Electric Bus Workshop Big Draw for Regional Transit Agencies

Public transportation providers are interested in learning about how SCE can help them plug in to clean energy.

Victor Valley Transit Authority will soon take its initial step in providing zero-emission transportation, as it adds seven battery electric buses to its fleet of 118 buses and vans.

Charging stations for those new buses are being installed as part of Southern California Edison’s Charge Ready electric vehicle charging infrastructure programs.

VVTA, which serves a nearly 1,000-square-mile area in the High Desert, was among three transit agencies that participated in a pilot program that provides infrastructure for public transportation providers electrifying their fleets. The pilot also gives participants rebates to help with the purchase of new chargers.

“We’ll be breaking ground for the first chargers in a few weeks,” says Ron Zirges, the transit agency’s director of maintenance and facilities. “And we’re planning for more.”

Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transportation District plans will pursue funding for planned bus charging through SCE’s Charge Ready Transport program.
Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transportation District plans to pursue funding for bus charging through SCE’s Charge Ready Transport program.

Zirges is in luck. Later this year, SCE will be launching a much larger $356 million program known as Charge Ready Transport to provide charging infrastructure at more than 800 sites for medium- and heavy-duty EVs, such as trucks, buses and industrial equipment. The sites are expected to support more than 8,000 medium- and heavy-duty EVs.

Recently, SCE hosted a workshop for transit agencies throughout its service area that are interested in learning more about how the utility can help them electrify their bus fleets through infrastructure programs, affordable rates and advisory services to assist them with planning.

“We are holding this workshop to get all the transit agencies together to talk through how we will begin this journey for electrification of buses and the role SCE will play in helping them,” said Katie Sloan, SCE’s director of eMobility.

“The most important thing for a transit agency or anyone else who is thinking of working with SCE on building electric vehicle infrastructure is to reach out to us early and often to talk about their plans so we can help them design their infrastructure in an efficient and timely manner,” Sloan added.

We are holding this workshop to get all the transit agencies together to talk through how we will begin this journey for electrification of buses and the role SCE will play in helping them. The most important thing for a transit agency or anyone else who is thinking of working with SCE on building electric vehicle infrastructure is to reach out to us early and often to talk about their plans so we can help them design their infrastructure in an efficient and timely manner."

 Katie Sloan, SCE Director

Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transportation District was also among the transit agencies represented at the workshop. An early adopter of electric transportation, Santa Barbara has been working with SCE on electrifying its transit fleet since the early 1990s, when it launched a fleet of electric shuttles.

“That really kicked off Santa Barbara’s electric transportation program,” said Ryan Gripp of Santa Barbara MTD. The district is currently replacing the electric shuttles with 14 30-foot, low-floor electric buses and plans to electrify its entire fleet, currently at approximately 113 buses, by 2030.

“We’re excited about Charge Ready Transport, and we’re looking at acquisition of several more buses, and will be pursuing Charge Ready dollars to support that,” Gripp said.

SCE’s program is timely, in that the California Air Resources Board recently instituted a rule that aims for statewide zero-emission bus transit. The rule, known as Innovative Clean Transit, sets 2029 as the year by which all transit agencies in the state will be required to buy only zero-emission buses.