The Orange County Transportation Authority is set to receive more than $13 million to add 10 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses to its fleet, another step in the ongoing effort to expand and improve an eco-friendly transportation system.
OCTA, in partnership with the Center for Transportation and the Environment, will receive the majority of the grant funds from the California Air Resources Board for the purchase of the buses, a fueling station and maintenance facility modifications. The Center for Transportation and the Environment will also provide project management and oversight for OCTA. This project is part of the California Climate Investments program.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District will fund an additional $1 million toward the buses, with OCTA providing an approximately $10 million match. Each bus costs approximately $1.2 million.
“I’m proud to say that OCTA continues to proactively make a positive impact on the environment,” said OCTA Chairman Michael Hennessey. “We’re excited to further our efforts to provide cleaner transportation options for all Orange County residents and visitors.”
Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses are powered by oxygen and hydrogen, which are combined to produce electricity, heat and water. The buses use fuel cells to convert chemical energy stored by hydrogen fuel into electricity. As the zero-emission fuel cell electric buses operate, they will emit only water, creating cleaner air and a healthier environment.
OCTA currently has one hydrogen fuel cell bus, which began service last year. That bus is part of a two-year demonstration project funded by the Federal Transit Administration under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program and is fueled at the University of California, Irvine.
In addition to the zero-emission bus, OCTA operates nearly 530 buses, all of which run on clean-burning natural gas. OCTA also strives to make Orange County greener by purchasing and preserving open spaces throughout the county through its freeway environmental mitigation program and providing funding to cities for projects that help protect water quality from transportation-generated pollution.
The 10 new buses are scheduled to begin service by the end of 2018 and will be fueled at a new hydrogen station in Santa Ana. Buses are planned to service disadvantaged communities, including on routes 29, 47, 53, 55 and 64.