California Air Resources Board approves zero-emission airport shuttle rule

July 2, 2019. The California Air Resources Board approved a rule that will require fixed route airport shuttles serving the state’s 13 largest airports to transition to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The regulation applies to public and private fleets, including parking facilities, rental car agencies and hotels.

   With almost 1,000 airport shuttles in operation, the regulation is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 500,000 metric tons, with a beneficial economic impact for shuttle fleets owners of an estimated $30 million in reduced fuel and maintenance costs.

   “California continues its forward march toward a zero-emission future with airport shuttles presenting a great opportunity for showcasing this process,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “Shuttles are a vital part of airport activity. The transition to zero emission shuttles not only provides consumers with clean, quiet transport but will help further expand the reach of this ultra-clean technology into the heavy duty transportation sector.”

   Airport shuttles are particularly well-suited to zero-emission technology because they operate up to 200 miles per day on short, fixed routes with low average speeds in a stop-and-go pattern.  Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) have an advantage over internal combustion vehicles in terms of energy and fuel efficiency, as well as maintenance costs, when operating in this way. The shuttles are also centrally maintained and fueled, which presents opportunities for overnight and mid-day charging. As the technology evolves, costs and performance will continue to improve, making adoption easier.

   Zero-emission shuttles are already operating throughout California. Six airports as well as private businesses serving nine airports have purchased ZEV airport shuttles. In addition to 48 ZEVs currently operating, nearly 100 additional zero-emission shuttles have been ordered, many of which have been awarded incentive funding through the state. Combined, on-order and currently operating ZEV shuttles represent more than 15 percent of all airport shuttles in California, but increased adoption of these technologies is needed to meet air quality and climate goals.

   Elsewhere in the country, major airports in New York City, New Jersey, Atlanta, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Raleigh, North Carolina are deploying zero-emission shuttles. These projects also demonstrate the technological and market readiness of ZEVs for airport operations.

   The rule will be phased in over a 13-year period. Beginning in 2022, shuttle fleets will be required to report the details of their vehicles. Starting in 2023, if fleets are replacing a ZEV shuttle, the replacement vehicle must also be a ZEV.