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Canada takes delivery of first hydrogen fuel cell bus for Olympic fleet

The first bus of what will become the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses has been delivered in Vancouver, British Columbia. The 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses will be in operation as part of the BC Transit bus fleet in Whistler during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and beyond.

‘The arrival of ‘Bus 1’ of the hydrogen fuel cell bus is a major step forward, as we work to build a Hydrogen Highway that stretches from Whistler to Victoria and beyond,’ says BC Premier Gordon Campbell. ‘This fleet will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1800 tonnes per year in BC and – when the world comes to our province in 2010 – it will showcase British Columbia’s expertise in cutting-edge hydrogen and fuel cell technology to the world.’

The development of a hydrogen bus fleet is part of BC’s commitment to fuel cell technologies, and the Hydrogen Highway is part of the province’s overall plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020. The Hydrogen Highway is a government-industry initiative seeking to accelerate the demonstration and commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies from BC to California.

Total funding for the hydrogen fuel cell bus project, covering capital and operating costs to March 2014, is C$89.5 million (US$84 million), almost equally split between the federal government of Canada, and the Province and BC Transit.

BC Transit’s hydrogen fuel cell buses will begin regular revenue service in Whistler in November. The low-floor buses – powered by Ballard Power Systems' FCvelocity™-HD6 heavy-duty fuel cell module – will have a range of 450–500 km (280–310 miles), and a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph).

The hydrogen fueling station – which is both a new transit depot and a bus fueling depot – is under construction in Whistler, and scheduled to begin operations in November.

The ultimate goal of the project is to demonstrate for the first time the integration of hydrogen fuel cell buses into the regular service of an urban transit system, and to monitor the bus fleet’s operations, maintenance and fueling over a sustained period.

Lifecycle costs for the fuel cell buses will be evaluated over the next few years to determine how they compare to current internal combustion engine technology. The outcome of this bus demonstration project will determine if hydrogen fuel cell buses could be put into service in other communities.

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