A Long Beach Transit bus drives down Ocean Boulevard toward Downtown Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Long Beach Transit is looking forward to several new initiatives in the upcoming year, including expanding its zero-emissions fleet and services.

Long Beach Transit first began its efforts to transition to electric buses in 2016, and is aiming to operate a fully zero-emissions fleet by 2035. To that end, in early 2023, the agency will add 20 electric-operating buses, bringing its total number up to 44 electric buses.

While initially the electric buses only operated in a shorter route in the Downtown area, they now are in regular rotation, serving areas throughout Long Beach.

The addition of its new electric battery-operated buses, which at 35 feet, are smaller than the standard 40-feet buses, will allow Long Beach Transit to extend its services, particularly in smaller, denser neighborhoods throughout the city such as in Alamitos Bay, according to Long Beach Transit spokesperson Arantxa Chavarria.

The extended route will hopefully connect a gateway for Long Beach Transit’s water taxi that boards in Alamitos Bay, which will overall “give more mobility,” Chavarria said.

Long Beach Transit is currently beginning its efforts to implement more charging stations, which will be necessary for increasing the electric bus fleet, as every bus will require nightly charging, Chavarria said.

Long Beach Transit currently has 24 chargers for recharging and one for training purposes.

In addition, Long Beach Transit will be introducing five new coach-style electric buses next year to be utilized specifically for special services, including its weekday direct services from Long Beach to West Los Angeles.

Long Beach Transit’s coach-style, zero-emissions buses, used for its weekday route to UCLA’s Westwood campus, will offer more comfort to customers compared to city buses for the hour-and-a-half route, which Long Beach Transit began offering in April 2019. The five new vehicles will replace one coach-style bus, which is not zero-emission, that Long Beach Transit already has.

Apart from additions to its fleet, Long Beach Transit also looks forward to an extension of its services and plans to bring its service back to 100% in 2023, Chavarria said.

Long Beach Transit is currently at 85% service compared to its pre-pandemic level due to bus operator hiring challenges, Chavarria said.

As for AquaLink, 2022 was Long Beach Transit’s first year providing year-round service, and the agency is excited to continue year-round service next year, Chavarria said.

AquaLink service will be offered every day during the summer and on weekends, from Friday to Sunday, during non-summer months.

In the meantime, prior to launching these new efforts, Long Beach Transit’s Passport service will be returning for this holiday season, beginning in mid-December.

The Passport service will provide free rides around the Downtown area for visitors, residents and customers, Chavarria said.

“We’ve done it historically multiple times throughout Long Beach Transit’s history, so community members are well aware and excited to have it back,” Chavarria said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the size of Long Beach Transit’s electric bus fleet, as well as the number of chargers the agency currently has.