Zero Emissions Bus Pilot Program

More Electric Buses are Coming to San Diego

On Thursday, September 17, 2020 the MTS Board of Directors approved the agency’s plan to get the bus fleet to all zero-emissions vehicles by 2040. The plan will fast track the purchase of 17 vehicles over the next two years (ahead of the state mandate to start purchasing vehicles in 2023), including the agency’s first 60-ft articulated electric buses.

MTS currently has eight electric buses in service. (Check out the electric bus pilot schedule below to find an electric bus near you!)

The plan is expected to help further reduce the agency’s greenhouse gas emissions by 43% from current levels. 


Transition Plan

Electric buses expanded to East County and South Bay! Look out for the green buses around San Diego County as we progress through the pilot.

Throughout the pilot program, buses will rotate to different routes across the system on a weekly basis. The frequent rotation will give more riders the opportunity to ride the new vehicles, and will allow MTS to test the vehicle/battery performance on a variety of route topographies, distances, times of day and more. (Please note, that the posted routes/schedules are subject to change at any time).



On October 19, 2017, the MTS Board of Directors unanimously approved a multi-year Zero Emissions Bus (ZEB) Pilot Program. The decision builds upon MTS’ strong track-record of operating one of the cleanest public transit fleets in the United States.

Currently, the entire MTS fleet of 40 ft and 60 ft buses use Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which is one of the cleanest and most affordable fuels available. The agency purchases renewable biogas for its entire fleet, further reducing the carbon footprint of MTS buses. In addition, MTS also operates 130 zero-emission light rail cars.

The nearly $13 million project is designed to support MTS in complying with the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) proposed Initiative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation. The ICT may require that all California transit systems transition to ZEB technologies by 2040. MTS brought its draft plan to the public in summer 2020 (view the public workshop and Q&A). Following that meeting, the plan was updated to fast-track more electric vehicle purchases in 2021 and 2022, prioritize vehicle rollout in disadvantaged communities and more. The MTS Board approved the agency’s updated transition plan and CARB's rollout plan in September 2020, which CARB then approved the rollout plan in December 2020.

About the Pilot Program

MTS’ ZEB Pilot project will help provide an analysis of how ZEB technologies will work for MTS’ transit system, and assist in determining the longer term impact on MTS with a new ICT. The ZEB Pilot Program will include:

  • Partnering with a consultant that has experience and technical expertise in analyzing and deploying Zero Emissions Buses 
  • Bus procurement 
  • Operation of the ZEBs in MTS service for a period of up to two years (December 2021)
  • Detailed analysis and reporting of cost and performance, identification of infrastructure needs and development of a roadmap from pilot to possible full deployment of ZEBs.

In partnership with the Center for Transportation & the Environment (CTE), MTS’ ZEB project consultant, MTS will develop the scope, design and requirements for the ZEB program. In addition, CTE will assist MTS with oversight of the pilot implementation, operation, analysis and reporting ZEB performance challenges and successes. The initial pilot will include at least eight (8) Battery Electric Buses from New Flyer Industries and Gillig that includes the following deliverables:

  • Modeling, and simulation of routes operating from each of MTS’ depots
  • Infrastructure upgrades to support charging infrastructure and/or fuel cell technologies
  • Grid and electricity capacity and consumption analysis
  • Training requirements
  • Operation data collection, monitoring, and analysis
  • Analysis of operational and capital cost components

Project Scope

The MTS ZEB Pilot Program was phased with bus delivery that started in October 2019.

The ZEB Pilot program links below will continually be updated throughout the entire project. 

  • Bus Procurement
  • Charging Infrastructure
  • Project Budget
  • Project Schedule
  • Data and Analysis
  • Informational Resources


Fact Sheet

On Tuesday, July 21, MTS held an online public workshop with 200 attendees to present their draft plan to transition the bus fleet to zero-emissions over the next 20 years. If you missed that meeting, you can watch the presentation recordings below (in English and Spanish). Public comments were accepted through Tuesday, September 8, 2020, and were shared with the MTS Board of Directors. The MTS Board of Directors approved the draft transition plan at the September board meeting.

View Presentation

View Questions & Answers (submitted during public workshop)

English Recording | Spanish Recording

Project Schedule
Bus Procurement
Project Budget
Charging Infrastructure
Informational Resources