The National Academies


A Guide for Resilient Zero-Emission Transit Bus Fleets

Posted Date: 11/14/2022

  Project Data
Funds: $215,000
Contract Time: 14 months
(Includes 2 months for TCRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for TCRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/15/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Stephan A. Parker
   Phone: 202-334-2554
   Email: saparker@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 1/31/2023
Fiscal Year: 2022


The transit market in the United States is undergoing a significant shift from predominantly fossil–powered vehicles to zero-emission buses (ZEBs). When transit organizations consider introducing these types of vehicles into their fleets, the primary concern is whether or not the vehicles can meet the agency’s service requirements for both regularly scheduled service and for unscheduled service to address local or regional events and emergencies. This concern exists both at the individual route and fleet levels. 

Transit organizations seek answers to questions that will inform their planning, procurement, operations, and maintenance practices, such as:

  • What happens if the grid loses power?
  • What happens if a charger goes down?
  • How will an operator ensure their buses are properly charged and ready to go into revenue service?
  • When a natural disaster arises and an agency needs to provide emergency transportation services, how can ZEBs support this need, with or without a functioning power grid?
  • In a natural disaster or local outage of power, how can assets be shared between fleets in the region? What kind of governance or resource-sharing structure or system can be employed?
  • Are there issues of compatibility with those bringing outside resources during a disaster, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Defense Logistics Agency?
  • What is the responsibility of local, state, and regional emergency management agencies to manage the restoration of transit service priorities?
  • How might agencies organize vehicle to grid capabilities to support local communities and disaster response with electricity from transportation energy generation, charging, management, or storage?
  • What is the potential for using power supplied through solar, wind, and nuclear?
  • How might relations be established with local grids?
  • How does a charging approach affect the local grid? What can be done to minimize peak demand on a grid?
  • What is the relation to rail traction power networks?
  • What factors should be considered when a contractor provides power?
  • Can distributed charging be a resilience strategy?
  • What is the status of standardization for charging systems?
  • How can fueling and charging be tracked to meet the National Transit Database reporting requirements?
  • What are hydrogen fueling station concerns? What are the considerations for on-site generation versus delivered?
  • What are battery electric bus concerns?
  • What are the potential impacts to onboard diagnostics and communications for ZEBs?
  • As rapidly evolving charging technologies are being developed by OEMs, what are the best strategies for agencies to commit to technology that does not quickly become outdated or obsolete? 

Research is needed to develop a guide that includes:

  • High-level concepts and findings;
  • Institutional resilience and contracting;
  • Current, commercially available options with pros and cons;
  • Available tools and resources;
  • Funding and financing options; 
  • Practical, clear, specific examples to communicate ZEB resilience strategies within a transit agency; and
  • An all-hazards assessment process for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure.

Note: there is a parallel project (TCRP E-14, "Lithium-Ion Battery Transit Bus Fire Prevention and Risk Management") focused on lithium-ion battery fire prevention and risk management. This project is investigating resilient zero-emission transit bus fleets.


The objective of this project is to develop a guide for resilient zero-emission transit bus fleets, covering both the resilience of scheduled service and the ability to provide transportation services during unscheduled events. 

The focus should be on power generation, distribution, and charging infrastructure for battery electric buses and hydrogen supply and fueling infrastructure for fuel cell electric buses; institutional relations; and operations. This project will not address zero-emission transit bus lithium-ion fire prevention and risk management in depth, as that will be handled in a parallel project.

At a minimum, the research team shall: (1) survey available and emerging technologies and strategies for improving resilience of a zero-emission transit bus fleet, such as on-site power generation, microgrids, backup utility feeds, local liquid hydrogen storage, and vehicle-to-grid technologies; (2) summarize available technologies; (3) identify model applications of strategies; (4) estimate costs for implementation; and (5) assess the roles such technologies and strategies may play in the disaster response plans of communities and states.


Proposers are asked to develop and present a detailed research approach for accomplishing the project objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task. Proposers are expected to present a research plan that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals shall: (1) present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach for meeting the research objective; (2) identify data and data sources that may be used to undertake this research, and (3) propose format(s) of the final research product(s). 

Potential tasks include but are not limited to:

  1. An Amplified Research Plan that responds to comments provided by the project panel at the contractor selection meeting.
  2. An Interim Report and panel meeting. The Interim Report should include the analyses and results of completed tasks, an update of the remaining tasks, and a detailed outline of the final research product(s). The panel meeting will take place after the panel review of the Interim Report. The Interim Report and panel meeting should occur after the expenditure of no more than 40 percent of the project budget


The final deliverables will include but not be limited to:

  • A guide for resilient zero-emission transit bus fleets.
  • A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note I).
  • A report with the following:
    • Documentation of the research activities;
    • Key Findings; and
    • Other topics identified during the project.

 Note: The research plan may include additional deliverables as well as additional panel meetings via teleconferences. 

Note: The research plan shall include a schedule for completion of the research that includes 2 months for panel review of the interim report, and 3 months for panel review and for contractor revision of the final research product(s). 


A. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Boards Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2022. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow. 

B. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

C. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Boards Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations. 

D. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at https://www.mytrb.org/OnlineDirectory/Committee/Details/6673. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest. 

E. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

F. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue. 

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

G. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

H. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

I. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.

J. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

K. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Boards Cooperative Research Programs

L. Useful resources for this project include:

  1. TCRP Synthesis 158: Cybersecurity in Transit Systems (2022). Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26475/cybersecurity-in-transit-systems
  2. TCRP Research Report 229: Assessing and Mitigating Electrical Fires on Transit Vehicles (2021). Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26288/assessing-and-mitigating-electrical-fires-on-transit-vehicles
  3. TCRP Research Report 219: Guidebook for Deploying Zero-Emission Transit Buses (2021). Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/25842/guidebook-for-deploying-zero-emission-transit-buses
  4. Electrifying Transportation in Municipalities: A Policy Toolkit for EV Deployment and Adoption at the Local Level (2021). https://www.electrificationcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Electrifying-Transportation-in-Municipalities-FINAL-9.9.21.pdf
  5. State EV Policy Accelerator. https://www.electrificationcoalition.org/work/state-ev-policy/
  6. TCRP Project SA-60, "Examination of Transit Agency Coordination with Electric Utilities" (FY 2022). https://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5371
  7. NOAA Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation Tool. https://resilience.climate.gov/
  8. Volpe Resilience and Disaster Recovery Tool Suite. https://www.volpe.dot.gov/news/developing-tool-suite-address-resilience-return-investment-transportation-infrastructure
  9. Electrifying Transit: A Guidebook for Implementing Battery Electric Buses (2021). National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy21osti/76932.pdf 
  10. ACRP Research Report 228: Airport Microgrid Implementation Toolkit (2021). Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26165/airport-microgrid-implementation-toolkit
  11. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Training & Certification Alternative Fuel Vehicles Safety Training Emergency Response Guides. https://www.nfpa.org/Training-and-Events/By-topic/Alternative-Fuel-Vehicle-Safety-Training/Emergency-Response-Guides
  12. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Global Technical Regulation 13 (UN GTR No. 13), Hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles. https://unece.org/transport/standards/transport/vehicle-regulations-wp29/global-technical-regulations-gtrs
  13. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Global Technical Regulation 20 (UN GTR No. 20), Electric Vehicle Safety (EVS). https://unece.org/transport/standards/transport/vehicle-regulations-wp29/global-technical-regulations-gtrs


Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/rDbnbIw11Qn5v7KWho2j 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 1/31/2023.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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