While Earth Day provides a chance once a year to focus on environmental protection, OCTA remains committed at all times to protecting what makes the county such a special place to live and to keeping people moving with a balanced and sustainable transportation system.
The latest effort toward a greener Orange County is the introduction of the first two plug-in battery electric buses into the county’s fleet of OC Buses.
The two plug-in electric buses have begun operating on routes throughout various parts of the county, part of a pilot program of 10 plug-in electric buses that will be tested. The remaining eight buses are expected to be delivered later this year.
“This is another important step toward zero-emission transportation technology – one that will help bring even cleaner air quality to Orange County,” said OCTA Chairman Mark A. Murphy, also the Mayor of Orange. “This is a great opportunity for us to test the latest technologies to ensure we continue providing the highest level of safe, reliable transit.”
In 2020, OCTA also began operating 10 hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses. This new pilot will help determine which technology – or mix of technologies – will work best for Orange County moving forward.
The move is part of OCTA’s plan to convert the OC Bus fleet to 100% zero-emission technology by 2040.
The $10.4 million contract with New Flyer of America, Inc. was approved by the OCTA Board of Directors in 2020 for the 10 plug-in electric buses. The plug-in buses are paid for by a mix of state funding, including through the Solutions for Congested Corridors (SCCP) and State of Good Repair (SGR) programs, and through the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) administered by Caltrans.
The buses may not be immediately distinguishable from other OC Buses to passengers, since they carry the familiar blue, white and orange branding. They are charged through a plug-in port either in the front or back of the bus and the batteries are not visible on board.
Similar to the hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses, they carry a logo that reads: “Zero Emission for a Healthy Community.”
OCTA is also working with Southern California Edison to install a new transformer and other infrastructure at OCTA’s Garden Grove base to enable charging of all 10 buses, with an option to expand if and when more plug-in buses are purchased.
OCTA has already gradually transitioned its fleet over the years, from diesel-burning buses to clean-burning renewable compressed natural gas (CNG) buses with near-zero-emission engines. The state has set a requirement to transition to complete zero-emission transit within the next 20 years.