USA and China launch zero-emissions bus competition


The USA and China have launched the Race to Zero Emissions (R2ZE) Challenge, a collaborative and friendly competition that encourages cities and metropolitan transit districts in the two countries to deploy innovative and advanced non-polluting Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs) in their transit systems.

The R2ZE Challenge was unveiled during the eighth US-China Transportation Forum in Los Angeles, California with US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and China’s Minister of Transport, Yang Chuantang, also signing a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to further cement the transportation partnership between the two countries and their cooperation in other areas of mutual interest, which includes safety, innovation and technology, energy efficiency, urban congestion, and public-private partnerships.

The R2ZE Challenge aims to reduce greenhouse gas and criteria emissions, while fostering demand and innovation for zero-emissions heavy-duty vehicle technology. The competition calls for a long-term commitment by transit agencies to expand green-energy transit fleets, with interim targets and a finish line. The targets are considered met when buses are deployed and remain in revenue service on an annual basis, with each target based on the percentage of the operator’s fleet that produce zero tailpipe emissions. In both countries, the aspirational goal is to have at least 35% of a participating city’s bus fleet comprised of ZEBs by 2025.

The focus on the ZE technologies stems from the proven benefits of the vehicles to the environment, business, and fleet operations, which include pollutant emission reduction, better fuel efficiency over conventional fuels, operational/maintenance cost savings, and market acceleration and job creation. For the purpose of this program, a zero-emissions bus is one that operates in electric-only mode, whether the electricity is supplied by batteries, a fuel-cell, or catenary (overhead power line). The Challenge is open to all cities/metropolitan transit districts in the USA and China, and all that voluntarily commit to, and subsequently achieve the targets, will be recognized as R2ZE Challenge participants. They will then be able to use the R2ZE logo in promotional materials, attend the annual summit, and be featured in US-China press releases. A competition will also highlight specific categories of achievers, and each year, the countries will select and recognize cities and metropolitan transit districts in several categories.

The USA and China will convene an annual conference that will bring together R2ZE participants, in order to share progress made toward the R2ZE goals, lessons learned, and winners from the prior year will be announced and recognized.

“This challenge will hasten the development of new and emerging technologies that will move us away from fossil fuels, and race us closer to our ultimate goal of zero emissions, while creating good jobs and economic growth in both the USA and China,” said Foxx. “This is a win for both of our nations, and an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to deepen technical cooperation, and our ties together in support of green-energy transportation objectives.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).