RTD’s GM and CEO contributed to White House roundtable on clean bus manufacturing

Tara Broghammer

DENVER (Feb. 9, 2024) — The Regional Transportation District (RTD) General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson participated in a White House roundtable on clean bus manufacturing, Wednesday, Feb. 7. The White House, in coordination with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the American Public Transportation Association, hosted the roundtable.

Discussions focused on the U.S. capacity for manufacturing low-emission buses at the scale and pace needed to achieve national climate and equity goals as access to transit expands social and economic opportunities in communities, contributing to a market demand. Low- to zero-emission buses are more expensive to manufacture than diesel buses. 

“It was an honor to join my peers for this timely, forward-focused discussion about the solutions that have been delivered – and the need to keep our collective gaze fixed far ahead as we determine the most suitable ways to broaden the introduction of this technology,” General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson said. “It is imperative that we ask the right questions, which will evolve over time with understanding and experience. RTD’s focus on being a strong community partner will continue to guide many of the considerations that were explored in the conversation this week.”

White House officials, the FTA, and representatives from suppliers, manufacturers, regional transit agencies and other stakeholders joined the event to address challenges facing the U.S. bus manufacturing industry’s transition to low- and zero-emission buses. The bus manufacturing industry is still recovering from the pandemic, which left only two major bus manufacturers in the United States.

Speakers included the White House Deputy National Climate Advisor Mary Frances Repko and Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. Administrator of the FTA Nuria Fernandez also spoke at the event, where attendees shared insights and opportunities to strengthen the use of low- to zero-emission buses across the nation.

Participants addressed best practices for procuring clean buses, securing supply chains critical to clean bus manufacturing and even looked ahead at implementing clean transit during the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

RTD introduced 36 zero emission and battery electric Free MallRide buses in 2017. The Free MallRide buses, which operate in downtown Denver,and the agency’s Zero Fare for Better Air promotion last July and August, are steps toward offering cleaner public transportation in the Denver metro area.

By Tara Broghammer