Santa Cruz Metro has made history by purchasing 57 hydrogen-powered, fuel cell electric buses. This colossal acquisition, the largest of its kind in the United States, includes forty-eight 40 ft. buses and nine 60 ft. articulated buses, all set to hit the streets of Watsonville and Santa Cruz County in late 2024.
The primary goal behind this monumental procurement is clear: to transition to zero-emissions transportation in Watsonville and Santa Cruz County. These newly acquired buses will replace older compressed natural gas (CNG) and diesel buses, resulting in a remarkable shift. Santa Cruz Metro’s zero-emissions bus fleet will skyrocket from a mere 10% to an impressive 69%, significantly reducing the region’s carbon footprint.
This move aligns seamlessly with California’s Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) Regulation, a testament to the state’s commitment to environmental conservation. The impact is tangible—a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 1.2 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2e). To put this into perspective, it’s equivalent to offsetting emissions from approximately 1.33 million cross-country flights.
The Santa Cruz Metro has its sights set on an even loftier target. By 2037, they aim to become 100% emissions-free, a vision that these hydrogen-powered buses play a pivotal role in realizing. This commitment to environmental sustainability is not only admirable but also sets a powerful precedent for other transportation agencies across the nation.
Transitioning to hydrogen-powered buses requires more than just procuring the vehicles themselves. The Santa Cruz Metro understands this well and is in the process of building a hydrogen fueling station that can support their entire 94-bus fleet. This forward-thinking move ensures that the infrastructure needed to sustain emissions-free transit is in place. The funding for this ambitious endeavor comes from various grants, totaling an impressive $86 million.
The Santa Cruz Metro’s initiative isn’t just about replacing buses; it’s about redefining the future of public transportation. This massive hydrogen bus acquisition underscores their unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability and a greener, more eco-conscious future.
The Santa Cruz Metro invites everyone to join them on this transformative journey through their “One Ride at a Time (ORAT)” program, where every ride contributes to reducing emissions and protecting the planet. This remarkable endeavor serves as a beacon of hope for more sustainable transportation systems not only in California but across the entire nation.