Long Beach Transit to convert UCLA shuttle service into zero-emission pathway

After successfully garnering funds from Caltrans, Long Beach Transit will now be able to purchase a zero emission, electric battery bus fleet for its shuttle service that connects the city to UCLA and Westwood.

Long Beach Transit began offering trips to UCLA as a pilot program in April 2019, making the service a permanent part of its offerings earlier this year due to the popularity of the service. The commuter bus to UCLA was initially a pilot project created through a partnership between Long Beach Transit, the Westwood Improvement District and UCLA, with UCLA offering subsidies for employees when it comes to scoring a monthly pass.

This latest endeavor is a focus from both Caltrans and transit authorities across the state on creating zero emission pathways among popular routes that cater to disadvantaged and working populations. The fleet is expected to arrive late 2021 or early 2022.

The $770,000 Long Beach Transit will be receiving to upgrade the fleet of this route is part of Caltrans’ Low Carbon Transit Operations Program, founded in 2014 with funds released annually. This year, the program handed out $146 million to 166 transit projects across the state.

“This investment will help reduce our impact on the environment and improve transit service, particularly for those facing economic barriers to mobility,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a news release. “Greater access to transit options will lead to decreased dependence on driving and cleaner air for all Californians.”

For Long Beach Transit has sought to create an entire fleet that is zero-emission: After an arduous and controversial RFP process to procure its first set zero emission buses, Long Beach saw its first set of electric buses roll out in 2015.

In 2018, Long Beach Transit partnered with with the Antelope Valley Transit Authority and scored $13.1 million for their zero emission project known as  “From the Desert to the Sea,” which added multiple zero-emission battery electric buses to each transit authority along specific routes.

Trips to UCLA (which include stops at Kinross Avenue and Veteran Avenue; the UCLA Medical Center; and Gateway Plaza) offer riders a commuter bus directly from Long Beach to Westwood. The bus runs Monday through Friday beginning at Bellflower Boulevard and Spring Street at three times: 5:15 a.m., 6 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. After each of these stops, buses make another stop at the Willow Blue Line Station roughly 20 minutes later: 5:35 a.m., 6:20 a.m. and 7:05 a.m. Returns occur at 4:20 p.m., 5:20 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. from Gateway Plaza.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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