NJ TRANSIT continues to aggressively advance its zero-emissions bus program with the release of its roadmap to a 100% zero-emission bus fleet. Watch a recording of our presentation to the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors here, or read it here.
The decarbonization of the transportation sector through electrification is one of seven key strategies stated in the 2020 Energy Master Plan that will help achieve the State’s goals of 100% clean energy by 2050. The transportation sector accounts for 41% of New Jersey’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and NJ TRANSIT plays a vital part in reducing those emissions.
On January 17, 2020, Governor Murphy signed S2252/A4819 that established requirements for NJ TRANSIT to move toward zero-emission bus purchases by 2032. Specifically, all NJ TRANSIT bus purchase made on or after December 2024 must include at least 10% zero-emission buses, escalating to 50% by December 2026, and 100% by December 2032. Zero-emission buses do not produce any emissions at the tailpipe and will be prioritized for use in low-income, urban, or environmental justice communities.
By transitioning to zero-emission buses, NJ TRANSIT will help improve air quality in communities who disproportionately bear the burden of the ongoing effects of climate change. NJ TRANSIT is committed to meeting this aggressive zero-emission bus deployment schedule and has established a strong foundation to lead a successful and comprehensive zero-emission bus program. All our efforts will inform and improve each other as we take a phased approach to support a zero-emission fleet by 2040.
- Our Approach
- Bus Electrification Preliminary Engineering and Planning Assessment
In November 2019 NJ TRANSIT initiated a Bus Electrification Preliminary Engineering and Planning Assessment. The goal of the assessment was to identify and assess the challenges of converting NJ TRANSIT’s bus fleet to battery electric buses (BEB), provide conceptual understanding of utility and other long lead infrastructure needs for capital planning, and better inform NJ TRANSIT’s zero-emission bus rollout strategy. The assessment evaluated four garages, Hamilton, Hilton, Newton, and Greenville, which cover a diversity of NJ TRANSIT bus routes, garage layouts, and local topologies. The key technical findings are:
- Current battery technologies do not provide sufficient energy densities for covering 300 or more miles on a single charge. Under the best conditions, we can’t expect a BEB to perform equally to a diesel bus without additional charging.
- The operational ranges of BEBs are heavily impacted by route topology, ambient temperature, HVAC usage, and driver behavior. Additionally, external factors, outside of our control, like route congestion and traffic that can further impact the range of BEB. We will have to plan around not only a significantly lower expected range than a diesel bus, but also extreme variability in that range.
- Our garage facilities and infrastructure will require substantial upgrades. Our garages were built decades ago with diesel buses in mind, and we are facing the challenges of significant power and utility upgrades, spatial constraints, equipment needs, and the state of good repair. Many of these items require long lead times and we want to ensure we are meeting the future needs of our system while minimizing disruptions.
- To operate a modern zero-emission bus system, we will need to deploy new technologies and training. We’ll have to ensure that our dispatchers, drivers, and garage managers are equipped with necessary tools to operate the system smoothly.
Overall, the implementation of a fully zero-emission fleet will require NJ TRANSIT to significantly change the way that buses are dispatched, operated, maintained, and stored. We will address these challenges by:
Learning from our deployments: Data collection and analysis on the performance of deployed battery electric buses will allow us to continually improve our strategy.
Addressing long lead challenges to zero-emission bus implementation: We must modernize our infrastructure at our garages to ensure they are ready for zero-emission buses.
Building institutional knowledge and develop investment plans: Understanding best practices and building the agency’s institutional knowledge will be critical to help NJ TRANSIT make lasting investments for a full zero-emission bus system.
- Newton and Hilton Deployments
NJ TRANSIT is transitioning to a cleaner bus fleet, beginning with deployments of BEB at the Newton Avenue Garage and Hilton Garage that serve the cities of Camden and Newark. Starting here is an intentional choice to see how these buses operate in an urban, frequent-stop market, while also giving an opportunity for a predominately minority and low-income area to gain early access to the newest electric bus technology. With the acquisition of eight 40-foot BEB and necessary electric charging infrastructure at each garage, residents will experience positive public health benefits from decreases in GHG emissions and improved air quality.
The first BEB are anticipated to be on the road in 2021 and will provide an opportunity for NJ TRANSIT to measure and study the unique benefits and challenges of using zero-emission vehicles, while contributing to improved public health outcomes. NJ TRANSIT will retain a third party to collect data and provide analysis to obtain a better understanding of how this technology will perform under our operating conditions.
- Garage Modernization
Transitioning to a zero-emission fleet will require a major transformation of our infrastructure, routes, and operations. Modernizing our infrastructure will require power utility upgrades which require a long lead time. The graphic below shows some of the activities that will occur at the garages which includes everything from expanding the footprint of our facilities, to roof strengthening for solar systems and power equipment, to digitalizing our yard management practices, to addressing basic state of good repair needs.
This transformation will require new technologies and practices that will require our bus drivers, our dispatchers, and our technicians to adapt. NJ TRANSIT is addressing these challenges through the efforts outlined in the 5-Year Capital Plan and the Garage Modernization program.
- Zero-Emission Bus System Design and Investment Planning Study
In conjunction with the above activities NJ TRANSIT will launch a Zero-Emission Bus System Design and Investment Planning Study activity to focus on bus system design and capital investment planning. The goals of this study are to develop and create standards and best practices to modernize our service. This effort will identify the investments that are critical to a successful transformation of the bus network. All of this will give us robust investment plans that can be seamlessly incorporated into our capital plan and guide large scale deployments in the future.