SARTA receives federal grant for pollution-free bus

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority in Ohio has received a federal grant to purchase a fuel cell bus which emits no pollution.

The Fuel Cell Corridor

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) says it will be the only public-transit system in Ohio next year to have a fuel-cell bus that will emit no pollution.

The office of U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, told SARTA on September 10 that the Federal Transit Administration has approved a $2.7 million grant for SARTA to buy a hydrogen fuel-cell bus.

SARTA is not required to pay a local match to secure the vehicle, the agency said, though it has to pay for the hydrogen to fuel the vehicle, maintain the vehicle and pay for the driver to operate it. That's a cost of about $60,000 a year.

Fuel cells combine hydrogen with oxygen, resulting in a chemical reaction that generates electricity and emits water.

"Right now, there's less than 200 of these things running in the entire world," says SARTA's Executive Director Kirt Conrad. "We're on the cutting edge of an entirely new line of product development. It's really us participating in a whole new mode of transportation."

SARTA's chief says he expects delivery of the 40-foot-long fuel-cell bus by December 2015. ElDorado National of Riverside, CA, would manufacture the bus, BAE Systems of Endicott, NY would make the drivetrain with a fuel cell manufactured by Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia, in Canada.

Conrad says Ohio State University's campus shuttle is the only other Ohio transit system scheduled to get a fuel-cell bus. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority had one fuel-cell bus on loan under an experimental basis for a few months last year in a partnership with the NASA Glenn Research Center.  

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