SamTrans is transitioning its diesel bus fleet to meet the goal of a 100% zero emission fleet by 2034

SamTrans is investing in battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses to do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fight climate change, and keep our air clean and communities healthy. SamTrans buses are an affordable and convenient way to get you wherever you need to go—and now SamTrans is beginning the process of making them emission-free!

California requires all public transit agencies with buses to transition to a 100% zero emission bus fleet by 2040. SamTrans is on track to complete the transition by 2034, six years ahead of the state deadline.

In 2020, the SamTrans Board of Directors approved a plan to convert the fleet to 100% zero emissions. Since then, the Board has approved the purchase of 37 battery electric buses (BEBs) and 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses (FCEBs) for the SamTrans fleet.

Environmental Documents

Comments may be submitted from September 15, 2022 to October 6, 2022 via email at zebceqa@samtrans.com. Written comments can also be sent to Hilda Lafebre, SamTrans; 1250 San Carlos Avenue; San Carlos, CA 94070.

Zero emissions buses charging

SamTrans’ zero emissions future includes both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses

SamTrans is making the transition to a 100% zero emission fleet by introducing both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Having a fleet made up of both electric and hydrogen buses will help the SamTrans bus system be more flexible, resilient, and adapt to changes in technology. FCEBs make it possible for SamTrans to be independent from the electrical grid, allowing SamTrans to operate vehicles during an emergency without relying on a steady stream of electricity.

BEB and FCEB technology and costs continue to improve and change at a quick pace. By considering and pursuing both options, SamTrans will make more informed decisions about technology for the remaining fleet.

Unlike conventional buses, BEBs use an onboard battery pack to propel the bus instead of burning diesel. BEBs do not produce greenhouse gas emissions or harmful exhaust that reduce air quality.

In a hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined to generate electricity, heat and water. The fuel cell converts the energy into usable electricity to power each bus. While electric batteries need to recharge, hydrogen fuel cells continue to produce electricity while hydrogen is supplied. FCEBs can be refueled quickly and travel long distances. They have a lot in common with the diesel buses we use today in terms of infrastructure, operations, and maintenance, except they only emit water.

SamTrans is committed to complying with the highest safety standards in the deployment of zero emission vehicles and construction of operation and maintenance infrastructure. SamTrans performs rigorous inspections and testing on zero emission vehicles and equipment before they are available to the public and on an ongoing basis.  SamTrans also follows safety procedures for handling fuels and energy sources. Whether it be gasoline and diesel, or electric batteries and hydrogen, it is important to handle all energy sources with care.

Hydrogen is safer than conventional fossil fuels because it is non-toxic and safe to breathe. Many conventional fuels are toxic or contain toxic substances and generate harmful air pollution. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles only produce water, and a hydrogen leak or spill will not contaminate the environment or threaten the health of humans or wildlife. 

Battery electric vehicles produce no emissions and have important safety features. Batteries are temperature-controlled, have protective packaging, and are separated from passengers.

More information

Feasibility of 10 Fuel Cell Electric Bus Demonstration (July 2022)

SamTrans partnered with the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) to evaluate FCEB performance and fuel consumption, fueling infrastructure solutions, and facility and maintenance needs. The evaluation included a test run of a FCEB on SamTrans routes, a site walk, and market survey of potential fueling solutions and fuel supply sources for the fleet. To receive a copy of the evaluation, email zeb@samtrans.com.