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NCTD Awarded $29.3 Million for Zero-Emission Bus Transition

Funds to purchase 23 zero-emission buses and implement a robust workforce training program with Palomar College

Oceanside, CA – The North County Transit District (NCTD) today announced the award of $29,330,243 from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Low or No Emission Vehicle grant program to purchase 23 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric buses (FCEB). The award includes funding to train the existing NCTD workforce and develop an innovative apprenticeship program in collaboration with Palomar College.

“This funding is critical to ensuring NCTD meets federal, state, and local goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also create good-paying jobs in the community,” said NCTD Board Chair Jewel Edson. “The purchase of 23 additional hydrogen buses will transform NCTD’s fleet and further our transition to 100 percent zero-emission operations.”

The award from the FTA will complement funding NCTD has already received to purchase six battery electric buses and 12 additional hydrogen FCEBs. Following the procurement of the 23 FCEBs funded by this award, NCTD will have 41 zero-emission buses in operation by 2025. This represents over a quarter of NCTD’s 152-bus fleet.

“California has an established goal to transition the state’s entire transit bus fleet to zero-emission by 2040, and I’m thrilled the Department of Transportation has committed millions of dollars to help our state accomplish this. These grants will put more buses on our roads, help reduce pollution in our communities and address the ever-present threat of climate change,” U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said.

“The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering results across the country, including in our district with this grant of over $29 million going to the North County Transit District for the purchase of 23 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses,” said Representative Mike Levin. “These clean energy buses will reduce harmful air pollution and modernize our transit infrastructure to improve service reliability. The funds complement over $6 million I secured in federal funding legislation to build out hydrogen fuel infrastructure and will advance our work in transitioning to low- and zero-emission vehicles. I am proud of NCTD for leading this effort and congratulate them in receiving this grant.”

In addition to providing funding for hydrogen FCEBs, the FTA grant will fund an innovative new apprenticeship program at Palomar College. This apprenticeship program will train current and future workers to be competitive in the rapidly expanding hydrogen FCEB and battery electric bus industry. All entities operating within the transportation sector can benefit from this trained workforce, which supports California’s goal to transition all heavy-duty vehicles to zero-emission operations.

“This funding will help us broaden our relationship with NCTD beyond our current efforts to develop internships and apprenticeships,” said Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey, Superintendent/President of Palomar College. “This program is responsive to the region’s workforce needs and prepares students to earn a livable wage as technicians for electric and hydrogen-fueled buses and commercial vehicles.”

The transition to zero-emission bus operations provides a wide range of benefits to the community. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air quality in NCTD’s service area will be improved. Additionally, the new zero-emission buses will replace aging, end-of-life compressed natural gas buses and increase the reliability of NCTD’s BREEZE bus service.

Construction will begin this year on a hydrogen fueling station at NCTD’s West Division facility in Oceanside to support the future deployment of 50 hydrogen buses. NCTD will use the hydrogen buses on its BREEZE bus routes that originate out of the West Division facility, primarily serving the cities of Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar, as well as the Camp Pendleton and Fallbrook communities.

NCTD’s application for funding from the FTA was supported by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Representative Mike Levin, State Senator Catherine Blakespear, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, and Assemblymember Brian Maienschien, as well as other regional partners.