Zero-Emission Buses

front of septa bus


SEPTA already operates diesel and hybrid buses as part of our fleet. As part of our strategic plan, we are pushing even further into embracing new technologies to help reduce emissions for the communities that we serve and continue a legacy of sustainability. As a core part of that commitment, SEPTA is currently piloting a procurement of Zero-Emission Buses (ZEB). The ultimate goal of converting to a zero-emissions fleet will require significant capital spending for charging stations, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, electrical upgrades, and purchasing more expensive buses. There would also be a considerable cost for a new garage if one is required to accommodate the ZEB transition. SEPTA will need an increase in capital funding from a combination of federal, state, and local sources to achieve the transition to a zero-emission fleet.


  • ZEB Playbook: September 2022 checkmark
  • ZEB Master Plan: 2023-2024
  • Facilities Analysis: 2023-2024
  • Implementation: 2025-2040


Zero-Emission Buses will benefit the region by:


Lowering SEPTA’s emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. This aligns with climate goals from the state of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, and others.


Decreasing SEPTA’s emissions of local air pollutants, such as Nitric Oxide (NOx) and fine particulate matter, that cause heart and lung disease. These emissions currently have disproportionate impacts on communities of color and low-income areas in the region.


Drive Innovation: Reducing noise compared to diesel and hybrid buses. Noise pollution impacts the health and well-being of humans and wildlife.

The positive impact of these benefits will be broadly shared as bus service makes up 55%-60% of SEPTA’s ridership, serving a large portion of the region.


ZEB Playbook evaluates the scope and cost of necessary infrastructure updates associated with SEPTA’s transition to an all-ZEB fleet and order of magnitude cost estimates for each technology.

The analysis examines the feasibility of procuring Zero-Emissions Buses (BEB, FCEB and/or trackless trolleys) as a replacement for diesel-electric hybrid buses. The final zero-emission bus fleet could include a combination of battery electric buses (BEBs) and fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) depending on service needs and facility constraints. Trackless trolleys, which were evaluated as part of the analysis, were determined to be too cost-prohibitive.


Phase 1: Evaluate Battery Electric Bus Technology

Battery electric buses are charged at fixed locations with powerful electric chargers that can be installed at SEPTA depots or locations where buses have layover periods

battery fuel cell

Phase 2: Evaluate Fuel Cell Electric Bus and Trackless Trolley Technology

Fuel cell electric buses have batteries that are powered by electricity derived from hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel to power the buses would be stored at SEPTA depots.

Building a Lifestyle Transit Network

As part of our 12-year capital investment program, we’re making stations accessible, acquiring new vehicles, investing in communications, and upgrading services for our buses, Metro, and rail to deliver on our vision of easy to use, frequent, and integrated transit.

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