Electric Buses and More Trees on the Horizon for Phoenix

Phoenix is continuing its embrace of sustainable technologies and initiatives that will enable the fifth largest city in the United States to utilize additional clean energy sources and technologies as well as reduce air pollution and the effects of lingering summer heat waves.


Mayor Kate Gallego with Phoenix Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari. Photo from Office of Mayor Kate Gallego

The city has already committed to zero net emissions by 2050 and has launched efforts to increase the number of electric charging stations and solar panels on homes and businesses.

This month, the Phoenix City Council, led by a bipartisan group of sustainability stewards like Mayor Kate Gallego and Councilperson Yassamin Ansari, will start to consider the transition to electric buses.

This week, Gallego and the City of Phoenix announced the first half a million dollar donation from American Forests in improving tree equity across the city and reducing the severe effects of summer heating on local residents.


The Phoenix City Council is looking to transition to Electric Buses.

As reported by Jen Fifield of AZ Central, the Phoenix City Council will begin considering and planning the transition to electric powered buses at its January 26, 2022 meeting.

Among the factors to consider in this transition are:

  • Whether to proceed incrementally, starting with the replacement of older buses and evaluating the results after one or two years. In November, the City Council did approve a $25 million pilot program to establish a “sub-fleet of green buses.”  According to AZ Central, this program can be increased to $150 million.
  • If battery technology has reached the point that Phoenix buses that use a great deal of air-conditioning during the summer can allow the vehicles to continue on their long routes without having to recharge. Shorter bus routes may be an option to consider.
  • Initial upfront costs versus long term savings. While the investments in purchasing the electric buses are more expensive than the standard natural or diesel fueled bus, various studies have found that long term savings are achieved with reduced maintenance and fuel costs.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego

Mayor Kate Gallego, an advocate for transitioning Phoenix to clean sustainable energy sources that effectively combat climate change, supports the transition to electric busses, commenting:

“Phoenix and the greater region is a leader in innovation and research for mobility and vehicle solutions that will help curb climate change. I’m very interested in alternative fuels for buses and the many technologies which can advance our city fleet. This is among the many exciting projects we anticipate as President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act rolls out and fuels growth of new green jobs for the local economy.”


Phoenix Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari

Gallego’s ally on environmental issues, Phoenix Councilperson Yassamin Ansari, is also a strong proponent of the conversion to electric bussing.

Commenting to AZ Central, Ms. Ansari stated:

“This (transitioning to electric buses) is absolutely crucial. We are investing a lot of time and expertise into (the city’s climate plan) and setting ambitious goals, so I think it’s critical that the city of Phoenix leads the way with our own fleet especially if we are going around setting goals for the broader public as well. We need to lead by example.”



American Forests will invest $500,000 in planting Trees in Phoenix.

The City of Phoenix also received great news from the conservation organization American Forests who announced they will be investing $500,000 to plant trees in areas of the city that have low tree equity scores. This includes neighborhoods, parks, and schools.

Efforts like these in Phoenix, Tucson, and other urban locales will help fight extreme summer heat in the months of June, July, and August.

Mayor Gallego announced the development on social media, posting:

In a media release on the City of Phoenix website, Mayor Gallego also commented:

“If we can achieve tree equity here in our desert community in a way that’s sustainable, then cities across the country can do so as well.”

Councilperson Ansari also commented on the latest with American Forest, stating:

“This partnership was on the agenda of my first-ever council meeting (back in April of 2021) and now I’m very excited to see it in action.

We’re receiving $500,000 all fundraised from private and philanthropic entities to help us advance cool corridor goals outlined in our Climate Action Plan — and with a focus on communities with low tree equity scores. Many of these areas are located in District 7 and need immediate attention.

More importantly, funds will be dispersed to organizations like Trees Matter, Keep Phoenix Beautiful and the Arizona Sustainability Alliance who are already have record of doing incredible work.”

Dr. David Hondula, the new director of the new Office of Heat Response and Mitigation, commented in the media release:

“Achieving our citywide tree canopy and tree equity goals will only be possible with great partners and collaborations, including those with community groups, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector. Our partnership with American Forests is not only helping us craft our strategy, but is also bringing significant new resources to Phoenix that can help us make much bigger strides toward our goals than we’ve been able to in the past.”

The long term goal of the program is for Phoenix to reach tree equity by 2030.

This is a great opportunity for the residents of Phoenix and its leaders to help lead the way in helping the United States transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy foundation, less polluted, and climate friendly community.

Leaders like Mayor Gallego, Councilperson Ansari, the other members of the Phoenix City Council, and Dr. Hondula should be applauded for their efforts to make the fifth largest city in the country a Mecca on how to get it done.

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