Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) has been running zero emission fuel cell buses in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2001. In 2005, AC Transit took delivery of three Van Hool fuel cell buses embedded with UTC Power’s 120 kW PC40 fuel cell powerplant.  In 2010, two of the fuel cells were transferred into new buses that AC Transit acquired as part of a consortium of San Francisco Bay Area transit agencies, known as Zero Emission Bay Area (ZEBA). Participating agencies include AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Mateo County Transit District, and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.  One of the fuel cells,manufactured by UTC Power, recently reached 20.000 hours of continuous operation, way beyond the 5.000 as originally planned.

With 20,000 hours of zero emission service, AC Transit’s quiet-running fuel cell bus has helped to improve the overall air quality, reducing the amount of noise and pollution in the communities it serves.  By itself, the fuel cell bus has removed 1,134,000 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere—equivalent to planting 13,189 trees or taking 108 passenger vehicles off.

“The fuel cell bus is a workhorse, quietly and cleanly logging thousands of passenger miles over the years and still going strong,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols. “CARB’s strategic investment in this demonstration project has shown that hydrogen fuel cells are a viable option for transit agencies in tough, demanding applications. I look forward to many more of these buses rolling out across the state as California communities strive to reach our clean air and climate protection goals.”

The Center for Transportation and the Environment obtained a $1.8 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration in 2013 to provide continuing service and support for AC Transit’s fuel cell bus fleet through 2016. Dan Raudebaugh, CTE’s Executive Director, said, “The performance of AC Transit’s fuel cell fleet is impressive and clearly leading the way to commercialize fuel cell technology. CTE is proud to be working cooperatively with AC Transit and its professional staff to help maintain this critically important program.”