BC Transit has finalized a six-year, C$20-million (US$19.9 million) contract with Air Liquide Canada Inc. of Montreal to supply hydrogen for the Province’s 20 new fuel cell buses to arrive beginning next summer. When the buses are operational, BC Transit will have the largest hydrogen fuel cell bus fleet worldwide, according to BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon.
Air Liquide, together with Canadian companies Sacre-Davey Group, Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation and Hydrogenics Corporation, will design, supply, operate and maintain two hydrogen fuelling stations. The first fuelling station will be located in Victoria at BC Transit’s Langford Transit Centre, to be completed by mid-2008. The other station will be located in Whistler at a new BC Transit facility that is currently being planned. The fuelling station is scheduled for completion by mid-2009.
The buses are being produced by a consortium including Ballard, which is providing the fuel cells; ISE Corporation supplying advanced electric drive and battery technology, and New Flyer Industries Canada ULC integrating both the Ballard fuel cell module and the ISE electric drive into a transit bus platform. (Earlier post.)
The first of BC Transit’s fleet of fuel cell buses will undergo testing and evaluation in Victoria in the summer of 2008. When fully operational in late 2009, the new fleet will be based in Whistler as part of public transportation for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The low-floor buses will have a range of 500 km, a top speed of 90 km/h and a life expectancy of 20 years.
The development of a hydrogen bus fleet is part of BC’s commitment to fuel cell technologies and the Hydrogen Highway as part of the 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. The total cost for the hydrogen bus fleet will be $89 million, with $45 million coming from the federal Public Transit Capital Trust fund and the remaining $44 million being provided by the Province and BC Transit.
Earlier, the BC government announced it was introducing a change to the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations officially recognizing low-speed electric vehicles (LSVs). This regulation would allow the vehicles to travel without flashing lights and warning signage on certain roads with a maximum posted speed of 50 km/h where appropriate and safe. The Transportation ministry will work with municipal partners and industry stakeholders to explore opportunities to pilot the use of these LSV zero emission electric vehicles in areas they are well suited for, such as parks, ferry terminals, university campuses, airport terminals and resort communities.
Our government is taking steps that both reduce the causes and the impacts of climate change, and improve air quality and public health. Promoting the use of zero emission electric vehicles is important because they are one of the cleanest, most environmentally friendly types of vehicles in existence.—Environment Minister Barry Penner