The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has adopted a five-year plan to introduce new zero-emission buses and gradually retire its fleet of fossil-fueled vehicles within 17 years.

The move is in accordance with regulations enacted in 2018 by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which dictates that all new public transit buses must be zero-emission by 2029 and all fossil-fuel buses must be retired by 2040.

The county has already purchased 19 battery-electric buses, which make up 40 percent of its fleet.

Supervisor Chris Coursey said the move will not only help the environment but also residents who depend on public transit.

“With 40 percent of local transit passengers representing disadvantaged groups and 40 percent of routes serving underprivileged communities, this plan also reinforces the county’s work toward healthy and safe communities, organizational excellence, resilient infrastructure and social justice,” Coursey said.

The county will need to buy new electric charging facilities and backup generators, which it estimates will cost more than $9 million. The cost to replace the remaining bus fleet could exceed $50 million, the county said. To pay for it, Sonoma County is applying for about $26 million in state and federal grants.

By accepting the plan, supervisors ensured that the county met the state’s July 1 deadline to submit its Clean Transit Rollout plan to CARB.

Katy St. Clair, Bay City News

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.