The Alameda County Transportation Commission, or CTC, hosted its first Clean Fuel Summit on Thursday, bringing together county, state and federal transportation leaders.
The two-hour virtual event included two panels, with the goal of highlighting progress already being made in zero-emission transportation and future opportunities to advance clean fuel.
“The Summit focused on how we can power the transportation system with fuels that produce zero emissions in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and criteria pollutants,” said Tess Lengyel, executive director of the Alameda CTC, in an email.
The first panel discussed opportunities and challenges faced by transit agencies and the Port of Oakland. The second panel focused on partnership opportunities at the federal, state, regional and nonprofit levels to help Alameda County, which includes Berkeley, reach its climate goals.
Lengyel noted that both panels discussed the importance of reducing emissions, especially with regard to improving the quality of life for low-income communities of color disproportionately impacted by emissions, most of which are produced by the transportation sector.
“The transportation sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in California, accounting for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions statewide,” Lengyel said in the email. “The transportation sector is also a major source (of) criteria pollutants that cause significant health impacts to communities adjacent to our region’s freeways, ports, and rail infrastructure.”
According to Lengyel, reaching the county’s zero-emissions goal requires significant investment, infrastructure and workforce changes, all of which must be accomplished through partnerships across all levels of government, such as those facilitated by the summit.
Lengyel also noted that regulations require state transit agencies to transition to zero-emissions operations by 2040, and that AC Transit is leading the way on the transition to zero emission buses.
“AC Transit is proud of its distinction as the state and the nation’s longest operating zero emission bus fleet, specifically battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, globally known as zero emission buses (ZEB),” said AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles said in an email.
According to Lyles, ZEBs now represent nearly 10% of AC Transit’s bus fleet of 637 coaches: 36 hydrogen fuel cell buses and seven battery electric buses. Their transit district has another 34 hydrogen fuel cell buses and 21 battery electric buses on order.
Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses eliminate an estimated 125 tons of greenhouse gasses annually, and battery electric buses reduce both air pollution and noise pollution, according to Lyles.
“One of my top priorities is ensuring that our public transit network is powered by renewable energy,” said City Councilmember Rigel Robinson, who represents Berkeley on the Alameda CTC, in an email. “By encouraging more residents to take public transit, and by making public transit itself more sustainable, we can reduce our auto-dependency and turn this climate crisis around.”