Fuel-cell-powered buses can be borrowed from SARTA, at no charge

CLEVELAND, Ohio --The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority and the manufacturers of its 13 fuel cell-powered buses have launched a national promotion to persuade other transit authorities to switch to hydrogen fuel cells and show the public just how quiet and clean the buses are.

Kirt Conrad, SARTA's CEO, announced the initiative on the heels of the 18th annual Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium held last week at Stark State College.

"Most Americans, including policy-makers and the media, don't know what fuel cells are or how they work," Conrad explained.

"Giving people across the country the opportunity to see, learn about, and ride on a hydrogen-fuel cell bus is the best way to demonstrate this technology's potential to totally transform the way vehicles are powered here and around the world," he added.

European and Chinese transit authorities have been switching to fuel cell buses. With 13 fuel cell buses and five more on order, SARTA's fuel-cell fleet may be the largest in the nation, outside of California.

The Central Midlands Transit Authority in Columbia, South Carolina, will be the first agency to borrow a SARTA bus. At no charge, Conrad said.

He said bus manufacturer El Dorado National and fuel cell maker BAE Systems are supporting the program and will provide technical support, as well as the hydrogen to fuel the buses.

SARTA's fuel cell buses are propelled by electric motors, which use electricity generated by an on-board fuel cell. The fuel cells use stored hydrogen, and oxygen from the air, to make the electricity. The only emission is water.

Most commercially available hydrogen is made from natural gas. But there are initiatives under way to use electricity generated by solar and wind to produce hydrogen from water through hydrolysis, which is a kind of reverse fuel cell that separates hydrogen and the oxygen that comprise water.

SARTA stores hydrogen at its depot. The transit authority initially began switching its 100-bus fleet from diesel to natural gas several years ago. Working in concert with the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research, SARTA then applied for federal grants to buy its first fuel cell bus, which arrived in the fall of 2016.

For more information on the program or to arrange to borrow a bus, contact Timothy Montgomery, SARTA marketing administrator, at 330-477-2782 x570 or tmontgomery@sartalonline.com