$49 Million for New Hydrogen Buses

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded $49 million in new funding for hydrogen fuel cell buses. Congress established the National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Development Program in 2005 to facilitate development of commercially viable fuel cell bus technology.

The FTA goal is to have hydrogen fuel cell buses represent 10 percent of new U.S. transit bus purchases in the year 2015. These exciting awards include a new generation of fuel cells, hybrid electric propulsion, auxiliary power, and lighter aerodynamic bus designs.

$12 million in funding for several major advanced fuel cell bus projects was awarded to CALSTART, North America’s leading advanced transportation organization. The projects will expand upon existing fuel cell bus demonstration programs at AC Transit in Oakland and at SunLine Transit in the Coachella Valley, and introduce a new program for Muni in San Francisco.

The funding complements California’s new Zero Emission Bus regulation which will require over 1,000 hydrogen buses by 2020. Should California Proposition 87 be voted into law on November 7, there may be significant added hydrogen funding.

UTC Power will provide the fuel cells for the SunLine and AC Transit buses with ISE Corporation integrating the fuel cells into their hybrid propulsion systems. The hybrid design currently enables four hydrogen fuel cell buses at these transit operators to use only 120kW UTC fuel cells, yet outperform similar fuel cell buses with more expensive 200kW fuel cell systems.

Serving the nation’s capital is Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA). They will be deploying two different advanced hydrogen fuel cell bus programs that will put six New Flyer 40-foot buses into service. In a $6,120,000 program, ISE will integrate a next generation Ballard 180 kW automotive fuel cell technology (HD6) with the ISE ThunderVolt® hybrid drive system into two New Flyer buses. Either ultracapacitors or batteries will be used.

A second $8.35 million WMATA project was awarded to the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC). UTC Power will provide its PureMotion(TM) 120 fuel cell power system for four zero-emission fuel cell hybrid electric buses that will be operated in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. UTC Power has been supplying fuel cell bus power plants since 1998 for programs in Washington, D.C., California, Spain and Italy and recently announced orders for Connecticut and Belgium.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His firm OPTIMARK Inc. conducts fleet outreach, market intelligence, and cleantech market development. John serves on the Board of the California Hydrogen Business Council. He can be reached at www.cah2report.com. John is the author of the upcoming book Save Gas, Save the Planet.

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