The Orange County Transportation Authority unveiled its first zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell bus at an event Monday May 23, as part of a continuing effort to expand and improve an eco-friendly transportation system.
The new bus – wrapped with a mural of California poppies – is part of a two-year demonstration project to complement OCTA’s existing fleet. OCTA currently has approximately 550 buses, of which 97 percent run on clean-burning natural gas. By the end of this year, 100 percent of OCTA buses will run on natural gas.
Funding for the project was provided by the Federal Transit Administration under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program. The program includes testing and demonstration of fuel cell bus technology.
“We’re excited about this effort to provide O.C. residents with eco-friendly transportation,” said Lori Donchak, OCTA chair. “We’re proud to be at the forefront of environmental technology and progress.”
Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses are powered by oxygen and hydrogen. These two components are combined to produce electricity, heat, and water. The new bus uses fuel cells to convert chemical energy stored by hydrogen fuel into electricity. Fuel cell electric vehicles are zero-emission vehicles. As the fuel cell electric bus operates, it will emit only water, creating cleaner air and a healthier environment.
“As a large urban operator in Southern California, OCTA is setting a strong example for a public agency striving to make positive impacts on the environment,” said Darrell Johnson, OCTA’s chief executive officer. “We are proactive in our efforts to join the cutting-edge community of hydrogen-fueled transportation.”
OCTA will utilize the hydrogen fueling station at the University of California Irvine, which deployed its first fuel cell-powered bus in April 2015.
At Monday’s unveiling of the new bus, OCTA officials were joined by representatives from several state congressional offices and by representatives from partnering agencies and transportation companies. They included: Federal Transit Administration, Center for Transportation and the Environment, Ballard Power Systems, ElDorado National-California and BAE Systems.
The bus will run along Route 53 and Route 145, allowing OCTA riders to experience the new technology.