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SFMTA promises to make all buses electric by 2035

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City’s last diesel buses will roll out of commission this year

The back of a zero-emission bus in SF. Photo by brokensphere/Wikicommons

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s Board of Directors voted unanimously this week to replace all city buses with new electric coaches by 2035, swearing off both diesel buses and hybrid models.

The body briefly debated the timeline of a full changeover at a Tuesday hearing, with Board VP Malcolm Heinicke noting that the city should shore up any risk of having fewer buses on the street during the switch or else “people might get back into their cars.”

The present plan calls for the city to begin buying electric vehicles exclusively in the future and count on the turnover and attrition rate of existing buses to put funkier technology out of action.

“More than half of our fleet is already zero emission, more than any other transit agency in the country,” Ed Reiskin, SFTMA director of Transit, boasted at the hearing.

Reiskin also promised that the city’s last remaining diesel buses should be out of commission by the end of this year, leaving only fully electric and hybrid buses, the latter to be phased out over the next 17 years.

Via press release, Mayor Mark Farrell praised the promised switch, and SFTMA said it will begin experimenting with identifying which stretches of different Muni routes can be made entirely on battery power:

Increased on-board battery capacity will allow the SFMTA to run a test program to operate “Green Zones” along several electric hybrid routes that would run only by battery for significant portions of the route. The “Green Zone” signifies an area in which the vehicle will not produce any emissions. The SFMTA is working to identify these zones throughout the city.

The agency also cautions that despite the high spirited comments from board members and the mayor’s office, there’s still some work to be done finding electric buses that can demonstrably operate with Muni’s high capacity and the city’s unpredictable terrain.

Under the current timetable, purchases won’t be made until 2025.