The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) recently achieved North America’s first fully zero-emission fleet thanks to the work of SMART SM Local 105 members employed at BYD (Build Your Dreams) in Lancaster, Calif.

Fully 57 of AVTA’s 87 battery electric coaches and buses were built by BYD at its Lancaster Coach & Bus Manufacturing facility. Many BYD employees and their families are served by the agency in the Antelope Valley.

Portions of the fleet were purchased with the help of state funding, including $28.5 million from the California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) administered by Caltrans and the California State Transportation Agency.

Every American-built, zero-emission BYD bus eliminates approximately 1,690 tons of CO2 over its 12-year lifespan, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. This is equivalent to taking 27 cars off the road. Each bus also eliminates 10 tons of nitrogen oxide and 350 pounds of diesel particulate matter, improving air quality in the communities they serve.

BYD is America’s first battery-electric bus manufacturer that has both a unionized workforce and a Community Benefits Agreement, which sets goals for hiring veterans, single parents, second-chance citizens and others facing hurdles in obtaining manufacturing employment.

According to SMART’s 6th General Vice President and Local 105 Business Manager Luther Medina, “We are proud of our partnership with BYD and the work we have done to ensure the Antelope Valley sets the standard for clean transportation options, not only here in California but across North America.”

On Tuesday, December 1, SMART members from sheet metal and transportation locals in Los Angeles joined their brothers and sisters in the Jobs to Move America coalition to lead the protest outside the headquarters of BYD Motors, Inc. – a Chinese-owned electric bus company that failed on a promise to create living wage jobs for local residents, in exchange for over $39 million in government tax dollars.

The protests caught the attention of Los Angeles city officials who are now seeking documents from BYD in an investigation of the company’s failure to make good on its promises.

SMART and the Jobs to Move America coalition are working to ensure that work contracted by local and municipal transit authorities is secured by American and union-represented employers. SMART will continue to work on behalf of workers at BYD to secure fair representation, free from company harassment.

BYD Protest in LA