San Francisco’s Bus Fleet Will Be All Electric By 2035

JUL 4 2018 BY MARK KANE 13

San Francisco commits to electrify its entire bus fleet by 2035.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) intends to begin a pilot project next year to evaluate how all-electric buses perform on crowded and hilly routes.

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Then purchases will begin. From 2025, new bus orders will be only for all-electric models and within 10 years, by 2035, all diesel buses are to be replaced.

There are also other agencies, like SamTrans from San Mateo County that decided on 100% electrification (by 2033).

“Mayor Mark Farrell and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates Muni, today announced San Francisco’s commitment to have an all-electric bus fleet by 2035. This means that the SFMTA will only purchase all-electric buses starting in 2025 to meet the goal for 2035. An all-electric bus does not use fuel and relies solely on the battery within its operating system.”

Mayor Farrell said:

“San Francisco is proud to once again lead on sustainable initiatives that not only improve our city, but improve the world. This new investment represents a bold shift in how we move hundreds of thousands of people on public transit, while reaffirming San Francisco’s commitment to sustainable energy practices.”

More about the electrification:


“The SFMTA Board of Directors today approved a resolution supporting the commitment towards an all-electric bus fleet. Muni currently operates the largest fleet of zero emissions electric trolley buses. Trolley buses, like all light rail, streetcar, and cable car vehicles, run on 100 percent greenhouse gas-free Hetch Hetchy electricity via overhead wires. Muni also runs a fleet of low emissions electric hybrid vehicles. The electric hybrid vehicles run on battery, as well as clean, renewable diesel.

“We are excited about the possibility that by 2035 we will be able to provide an all-electric fleet that won’t require overhead wires,” said Cheryl Brinkman, Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors. “As an agency, we have always been forward thinkers when it comes to greening our fleet and we will continue to take steps to test electric vehicles here in San Francisco to reach our goal.”

The SFMTA has been rolling out new electric hybrid buses with higher capacity on-board battery systems. The increased on-board battery capacity will allow the SFMTA to run a test program to operate “Green Zones” along several electric hybrid routes that would run only by battery for significant portions of the route. The “Green Zone” signifies an area in which the vehicle will not produce any emissions. The SFMTA is working to identify these zones throughout the city.

“Muni’s transit system is the cornerstone of our city’s environmentally sustainable transportation system and is one of the greenest in the world,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA’s Director of Transportation. “Our efforts to take our fleet to the next level won’t only make for better and more efficient service, but they will continue the work we are doing to be one of the cleanest fleets in the country and improve rider experience.”

The SFMTA is at the ready to move forward with electric bus technology when manufacturers can prove their electric buses can withstand heavy ridership and steep hills. The agency would also have to consider new facilities that can charge a large fleet and developing a systemwide infrastructure to charge vehicles in service or on the street. John Haley, SFMTA’s Transit Director said, “While the battery technology is emerging rapidly, it isn’t quite ready for primetime. Manufacturers aren’t yet producing the number of all-electric buses San Francisco and other urban areas would need, nor could we guarantee that the vehicles would work for the required 15 years with heavy ridership and challenging topography.”

In 2019, the SFMTA intends to purchase a limited number of zero-emission battery electric buses and test them in service throughout San Francisco to evaluate how they perform on crowded and hilly routes. The most important step to support the zero-emission goal is to determine the infrastructure needs for electric buses, including upgrades for our existing facilities to accommodate charging requirements and maintenance.

Of the nearly 900 all-electric buses purchased across the country, only 207 are actually in service. By contrast, Muni is currently operating 250 electric trolley vehicles.

In recent years, the SFMTA has replaced over 90 percent of its older diesel buses with cleaner, more efficient electric hybrid vehicles that run on renewable diesel. These electric hybrid vehicles offer dramatically lower fuel consumption, decreased engine idling time while in service, and a substantial reduction in emissions. The SFMTA’s switch from conventional diesel to electric hybrid vehicles has reduced consumption of fuel by 5.4 million gallons and 82,000 tons of CO2 over the 12-year life of the fleet.

Over 50 percent of the transit fleet, including light rail, cable cars, historic streetcars and electric trolley buses are largely powered by greenhouse gas-free hydropower generated from Hetch Hetchy. Beyond that, our new electric hybrid buses use 100 percent renewable fuel. This eliminates greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum fuel and saves a million gallons of fuel each year. San Francisco’s transportation sector generates approximately 46 percent of the City’s total greenhouse gas emissions mostly generated by the use of private cars and commercial trucks. By contrast, Muni carries 26 percent of all trips in the city, but accounts for less than two percent of these emissions.

On April 19, 2018, in celebration of Earth Day, Mayor Mark Farrell committed San Francisco to net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050, a move that will eliminate the City’s carbon footprint.”

Categories: Bus


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13 Comments on "San Francisco’s Bus Fleet Will Be All Electric By 2035"

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I love projections 15-20 years into the future. 1) Most in power right now won’t even be in office 10 years from now, and 2) If you’re so committed, why wait 15-20 years when the technology is available right NOW?


Testing the buses first to see how they do in hilly and crowded area.

At a half million per bus Conversion kits might help accelerate the transition.

Is this to imply that SFMTA is still buying diesel buses in 2018? Asinine. Most agencies in SoCal stepped up to CNG long ago and even Foothill Transit, which almost certainly has a bigger service area than Muni with far less ridership, has already pledged to go full-electric by 2030. Why is SF lagging?

Per the article, all of which you apparently did not read: “In recent years, the SFMTA has replaced over 90 percent of its older diesel buses with cleaner, more efficient electric hybrid vehicles that run on renewable diesel.”

Wow, 2035… That’s a mere 18 years after Shenzhen!

Exactly.. haha! We are slow in the USA.. Shenzhen also has over 16K buses, and an amazing subway system

Diesel Technology Forum

It’s a little known fact, but San Francisco’s MUNI is already a leader in reducing GHG emissions by upwards of 80 percent. Currently, the biggest GHG reductions in San Francisco do not come from all-electric anything, but by the use of renewable diesel fuel in the city’s transit buses: San Francisco’s MUNI fleet of 606 buses operate exclusively on renewable diesel fuel, displacing 7,152,216 gallons of petroleum diesel fuel and saving 62,646.3 tons GHG emissions. This use of renewable diesel fuel is the single largest contributor to GHG emission reductions from the city and MUNI fleet.

While folks sit on the sidelines waiting for all-electric technology to prove out, and then wait for charging station infrastructure to be built out, renewable diesel fuel and advanced-technology diesel buses will be meeting the demanding needs of MUNI and significantly reducing GHG emissions.

But how are the MUNI yard folks going to let the buses idle for hours before leaving the yard?

If across the country 900 all electric buses have been purchased. Why are only 207 in service?

Happy about an all-electric fleet, however trolleybuses are ALREADY electric and require NO recharging! They run on 600VDC and the electricity comes from GRAVITY (hence hydro) or from Hetch-Hetchy in the East Bay and not PG&E! Save the existing trolleybuses just ADD the battery electrics. But don’t tear down the wires, they are ALREADY THERE! Muni are still receiving delivery of the 12 m (single) brand new trolleybuses from New Flyer Industries in Winnipeg, MB. These should have at least a life span of three decades (30 years). No sense of doing what Wellington, NZ had done suddenly close their trolleybus system (the last remaining trolleybus system in the world that drives on the LEFT!

In fact to my current knowledge, Wellington is going to rewire, and get trolleybuses back, one line per year (eleven lines)! that is what Wellingtonians want! (The other diesel routs can become electrified by battery LI buses). Also trams (also electric of course) may also be introduced as well there.