Metro Board targets zero-emission bus fleet by 2045
Approves Sustainability Policy Principles to Guide Metro's Future
Today, Metro's Board of Directors approved a major change to its Metrobus fleet that supports the region's clean air goals, establishes guidelines for more sustainable business practices, and re-elected its Chairman to a third term in office.
Reflecting back on the turbulence of the pandemic and the economy, with a concurrent national discourse on equity, Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg said, "It's been a challenging time for all of us at Metro, and I am proud that our leadership and absolutely essential workforce continued to support our customers and the communities we serve every day. With the approval of new sustainability principles, commitment to zero bus emissions, and recovery service and fare plans, we have flipped challenges to opportunities. We are committed to providing better, more equitable, and more affordable transit service than ever before at a time when the region's economic and social recovery depends on Metro."
The Board took a major step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving local air quality with the approval of a new Metrobus fleet strategy that would create a 100% zero-emission bus fleet by 2045, with a full transition to electric or other zero-emission bus purchases by 2030. Metro's upcoming Electric Bus Test and Evaluation, which includes the procurement of approximately 12 electric buses in FY2023, will provide data and experience with electric bus performance in Metro operating conditions. The fleet strategy approved today proposes a phased conversion of the 1,500-vehicle Metrobus fleet as zero-emission technologies develop, as well as needed investments in compatible facilities, infrastructure and work force in the coming years.
The Board also approved Sustainability Vision and Principles, which provide a new framework to help guide long-term policy and investment decisions. The vision and principles recognize that Metro's investments and operational decisions have immediate and significant impacts on health, equity, economic prosperity, and the overall social and economic wellbeing of the region.
Gidigbi-Jenkins & Goldman depart Board; Letourneau to chair Safety & Operations Committee
"I want to thank Board Member Stephanie Gidigbi-Jenkins for her leadership on the Board since 2019," Smedberg said. "Her voice has been an important one as the Board engaged in major policy initiatives, especially as an advocate for low-income and minority customers."
Smedberg began his Board service in January 2016 as the alternate member appointed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) to represent Alexandria. In 2019, he was appointed by the Governor of Virginia and Virginia Secretary of Transportation through NVTC as a principal member representing the Commonwealth of Virginia. He was elected Chairman in June 2019, and re-elected in 2020. During his tenure as Chair, the Board has adopted tougher ethics rules, established an equity framework, and developed multiple budget and service plans in support of Metro's Covid-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts.
The Board also announced that, beginning in July, Board Member Matt Letourneau would begin serving as chair of the Safety and Operations Committee. Michael Goldman, who has chaired the Safety and Operations Committee for the past two years, is retiring from the Board after eight years of service.
"We are grateful for Michael Goldman's leadership as chair of the Safety and Operations Committee at what has really been a period of intense maturation of our safety culture," Smedberg said. "Mr. Goldman invested extraordinary time to ensure that the Board engaged deeply, consistently, and transparently in the tough safety issues Metro has confronted."
The Board also elected the District's Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure Lucinda Babers as First Vice Chair and Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater as Second Vice Chair.
"The combination of Secretary Slater's continuing leadership on financial and service policies, and the experience Deputy Mayor Babers has quickly brought to the Board, position us to address some complex issues this fall including our complicated fare structure, and our need to be responsive with rail and bus service as the region reopens," Smedberg said.
Donald G. Drummer joins the Board next month as the new Principal Member from Maryland. A Prince George's County resident and solar energy entrepreneur, Drummer retired as a senior executive from the Federal Aviation Administration and as a Colonel from the U.S. Army.
"We look forward to welcoming Mr. Drummer to the Board this summer, and to benefitting from his expertise and participation in policy discussions on sustainability and fare structure, among other important topics," Smedberg said.