SamTrans replacing 30 diesel buses with electric buses

June 9, 2022
SamTrans Board voted to purchase 20 battery electric buses and 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses in a move that will speed its full fleet conversion by four years.

The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) expects to fully convert its fleet to zero-emission buses by 2034, which is four years faster than the original 2038 projection following approval by the SamTrans Board of Directors to purchase 30 zero-emission buses to replace 30 diesel buses.

The approved purchase includes a $13.9 million contract with New Flyer of America for 10 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and a $22.8 million contract with Gillig LLC for 20 battery electric buses. The purchase of the buses is funded through a mix of federal, state and SamTrans sales tax funds.

SamTrans explains it will be introducing a mix of battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at the launch of its Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) fleet deployment to assess how the two technologies perform under different conditions, which can serve which routes better and what it would require to meet their infrastructure needs.

SamTrans says it will develop a plan for full ZEB conversion of the fleet by 2034, six years before the state mandated conversion in 2040. The transit district’s board approved a conversion plan in late 2020 in which the district anticipated need to invest nearly $500 million to meet the original full conversion date of 2038.

SamTrans expects to begin service with the 30 buses from New Flyer and Gillig in 2023. The new 40-foot buses will be used throughout SamTrans’ service area and will be equipped with familiar amenities such as exterior bike racks, as well as modern amenities including USB charging ports, Q-Pod wheelchair restraint systems and disc brakes, which should reduce maintenance and upkeep.

The new buses will replace the 2009 40-foot diesel buses, some of the oldest vehicles in the SamTrans fleet. The diesel buses have reached the end of their useful life and are due for replacement to ensure continued reliable service for passengers and compliance regional and federal guidelines.

SamTrans has used 100 percent renewable and GHG-free electricity since May 2017. The district previously purchased 10 electric buses from Proterra in 2018 and seven battery electric buses from New Flyer in 2021

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction 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.