AVTA now operates North America’s first fully zero-emissions fleet

March 17, 2022
The California transit agency completes its zero-emissions transition 18 years ahead of a 2040 state mandate.

Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) held a celebration March 16 to mark its complete transition to a zero-emissions fleet. The final piece of its fleet came in the form of its 20th electric MCI coach for its commuter routes, which joins AVTA’s 57 BYD zero-emission buses and 10 GreenPower EV Star Microtransit vans.

AVTA credits its successful transition to staying committed to the zero-emissions vision outlined by its board. AVTA Board of Directors approved a contract to purchase up to 85 zero-emission buses from BYD in 2016 to become the first U.S. agency to commit to a 100 percent electric fleet; welcomed its first electric vans and launched a microtransit pilot in September 2020; christened its first battery electric commuter coach in August 2021; and decommissioned its last diesel bus in April 2020.

“Long before we saw an electric bus rolling down the streets of the Antelope Valley, the AVTA Board envisioned a future with a greener and technologically superior transit system serving the citizens of Lancaster, Palmdale and the rural northern Los Angeles County communities,” said AVTA Board Chairman Marvin Crist. “The board cast a vision and the AVTA staff, working together with BYD and many other electric vehicle and system providers, brought that vision to life.”

As of January 2022, AVTA’s electric fleet has reached seven million miles driven, which carries a CO2 reduction of 41.58 million pounds, which is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide 5,250 acres of forest can absorb in one year.

AVTA operates in Lancaster and Palmdale, Calif., as well as the unincorporated portions of northern Los Angeles County. In 2018, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed a first-of-its-kind regulation that requires the state’s transit agencies gradually transition to 100-percent zero-emission bus fleets by 2040.

During AVTA’s March 16 event, CARB Chair Liane M. Randolph congratulated the authority for beating the deadline for the regulation by 18 years.

“The Antelope Valley Transit Authority, together with the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale and Los Angeles County, has shown California and the world how local growth can coexist with clean transportation, low-carbon energy and new local job opportunities,” said Randolph. “Their accomplishment underscores the fact that committed and visionary communities are key to our clean air and climate solutions as well as a strong California economy.”

In addition to AVTA and CARB officials, representatives from the California State Transportation Agency, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23, U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA-25), California State Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey’s offices attended the event.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.