The California State Transportation Agency awarded the Humboldt Transit Authority $38.7 million to replace 11 diesel-powered buses with 11 new zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric buses.
“Cleaner air, that’s what this project is all about. And secondly, we’ll be connecting counties, making it easier for people to travel around. The goal is to be able to get people to Lake County and cross over (statet Route) 20 to hook up with a bus to be able to get to the airport in Sacramento, or going to Santa Rosa and having different options there, and then being able to get on the SMART train and, and then being able to get to San Francisco easier than (people) have before. So, it’s a lot about movement, it’s about moving people efficiently,” Gregg Pratt, the general manager of the Humboldt Transit Authority, said.
Peter Lehman, founding director of the Schatz Energy Research Center at Cal Poly Humboldt, said, “One of the things that we stressed in this grant application was establishing a connection between transit in Humboldt County and transportation hubs further south in California,” Lehman said. “New Flyer is building a better technology bus. …They have batteries, but they also have a fuel cell, which is an electricity generator. So, they carry their own generator on board to recharge the battery as the bus is running.”
The project has inspired New Flyer “build a better bus” with a larger fuel cell and more hydrogen stores on board, he added. “It will have the sufficient range to go to Ukiah and back and that’s a big deal in the whole zero-emission technology field. This project has sparked new development that will be important nationwide.”
The hydrogen fueling station set to be constructed as part of the project would be one of the first north of the Bay Area, with the next closest station in Santa Rosa. The station would include bus fueling and over-the-fence retail fueling at the HTA Corporation Yard, accessible to the public and other fleet operators.
The project is part of a statewide investment in local infrastructure and transit called the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program.