Montgomery County, Md., releases Zero Emission Bus Transition Plan

May 21, 2024
In collaboration with STV and developed in partnership with MCDOT, the plan maps out how the county will convert its transit fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

Montgomery County, Md., in collaboration with STV, has released its Zero Emission Bus Transition Plan, which maps out how the county will convert its transit fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Developed in partnership with Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), which operates the county's public transportation system, Ride On bus services, with a fleet of nearly 400 buses servicing about 80 routes. The plan identifies the county’s existing infrastructure assets, technology options and potential federal and state funding opportunities for MCDOT to pursue. 

The plan, which was jointly released by MCDOT and the Montgomery County Department of General Services (MCDGS), aligns with the county’s climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent by 2035. The county had previously identified that about 42 percent of carbon emissions originate from the transportation sector. 

In preparing the plan, STV and its team of zero-emissions experts guided the county through its transit fleet transition by laying out what infrastructure is needed to support maintenance and operations, including vehicles, depots and facilities and fueling options. The plan is intentionally flexible to accommodate emerging technology and relies heavily on state and federal grants that MCDOT has so far been successful in receiving, including more than $30 million for environmentally friendly transportation solutions during the past two years. 

“Montgomery County is at the forefront among local governments for transitioning to zero-emissions transportation and we’re thrilled to be a part of this milestone achievement,” said Philip Hanegraaf, FAICP, senior vice president and national director of planning at STV. “By leveraging our multidisciplinary team, including experts from our vehicles, systems, planning and infrastructure economics practices, we were able to deliver for our client.” 

Following the plan’s release, MCDOT and MCDGS are moving forward with finding innovative ways to develop clean energy charging infrastructure to support the zero-emission bus fleet. In October 2022, the county unveiled the nation’s largest solar-powered microgrid for charging of public buses at the Brookville bus depot in Silver Spring, Md. MCDGS is now heading up the implementation of an even larger microgrid that will be breaking ground at the Gaithersburg bus depot later this year to power a future clean hydrogen bus project and provide additional charging infrastructure for electric buses. 

“This comprehensive and innovative, long-range plan sets us apart as industry leaders,” said Maricela Cordova, special assistant to the director for strategic projects at MCDOT. “It is an excellent example of teamwork and collaboration and it provides a solid baseline for the county’s transit fleet transition to zero-emissions. We are pleased with the result and we look forward to its implementation in the coming years. “  

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.