A new generation of transit buses is hitting the streets, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced $55 million in grant assistance to help fund such advanced vehicles. BAE Systems is leading the charge in the FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program, included in three of the 10 competitive grants awarded.
In 2011, our HybriDrive® Solutions business helped bring the American Fuel Cell Bus to revenue service in Thousand Palms, Calif., along with other clean transportation supporters, including the FTA, CALSTART, the California Air Resources Board, California South Coast Air Quality Management District, SunLine Transit Agency, ElDorado National (California) Inc., and Ballard Power Systems.
Since that first fuel cell bus, the HybriDrive Solutions team has worked with those companies to expand the program from one to five buses in service. With the new round of FTA funding, the number of fuel cell buses in the country will increase to 40. One of the goals of the Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program was to move fuel cell technology from the demonstration phase to full commercialization, and we are at the forefront of that movement.
Our company was the only grantee to receive funding for both low and no emission solutions. Of the $55 million in competitive grants awarded this year, we are a manufacturing partner to three of them:
- $9.8 million will be granted to Sunline Transit Agency, in partnership with the Southern California Association of Governments, to build and deploy five hydrogen electric hybrid fuel cell buses. Our company, Ballard Power Systems, and ElDorado National will work together to build the new zero-emission buses. This project will increase Sunline's current fleet of hydrogen electric hybrid fuel cell buses and allow the agency to offer expanded transit service in Southern California.
- A grant of $8.9 million will be dedicated to purchase and deploy five hydrogen fuel cell buses for the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) from the Integrated Product Team of Ballard Power Systems, BAE Systems, and ElDorado National. SARTA provides more than 2.7 million rides annually in Stark County, Ohio.
- $2.6 million will be allotted to Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA) in Lancaster, Penn., to purchase 17 electric hybrid buses to replace current diesel buses that are at the end of service life. The new, low emission buses will be manufactured by Gillig with our company providing its Series-E hybrid propulsion system. Fourteen buses will go to RRTA, and three will go to the Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority, which is being managed by RRTA. The two agencies serve Berks and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania.
Our innovations to eliminate emissions in transit buses and provide clean air for our communities are integral to the commercial maturity of this zero-emission transit technology.