Chicago Chooses Nonpolluting Fuel Cell Buses for Citys
Air Quality Grants, Stock Options Provide Financial Incentives
by Jacquelyn Cochran
Bokow, Manager of Publications, National Hydrogen Association
The Chicago (Illinois, U.S.A.) Transit Authority
announced in September that it had added the first of three zero-emission
fuel cell-powered buses to its service fleet. A partnership between the
CTA and Ballard Power Systems, maker of the fuel cell engine which powers
the vehicles, will test the buses on actual public transit routes for two
Once bus operators have been trained to operate
and maintain them, the fuel cell buses will be placed into revenue service
later this year. The three routes where the buses will run were chosen because
they all operate out of the same garage where the fueling station will be
located and because they travel through the downtown area where the highest
concentration of pollutants are created.
Grants, Stock Options Provide Funding
CTAs fuel cell buses were paid for with
capital investment funds that were specifically earmarked for environmental
air quality improvement projects. Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality
grants from the Federal Transit Administration (80%) and monies from the
Regional Transportation Authority (20%) provided a total of US$6.7 million
toward the project.
Under its agreement with Ballard, the CTA received
warrants to purchase up to 200,000 shares of Ballard Power Systems stock
at the market price in effect at the time CTAs contract with Ballard
was signed. Within five years, the CTA can sell the stock on the open market
and retain any profit to reinvest into the system. Once Ballards fuel
cell buses go into commercial production, sometime in the year 2001, the
CTA will receive a US$1,000 fee from Ballard for every fuel cell bus sold
(thats to anyone, not just the CTA), to a maximum of US$4 million.
The cost of the three Ballard fuel cell buses
was US$1.4 million each. Spare parts, maintenance, training, and engineering
are expected to cost US$1.6 million. Construction of the fueling station
and the hydrogen fuel cost US$900,000. An additional US$2.9 million was
provided by the FTA and the RTA to modify an existing CTA bus garage that
will house the new buses and to pay for additional site work, labor costs
by field forces, and additional monitoring systems. In total, US$9.6 million
was allocated for this project.
A newly built hydrogen fueling station at CTAs
Chicago Avenue Garage houses the storage tank and refueling equipment for
the fuel cell buses. Air Products & Chemicals, Inc., built and maintains
the fueling facility, is supplying the hydrogen (derived from natural gas),
and is training CTA staff in safety and refueling procedures.
©1997. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of
the National Hydrogen Association.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Home Page Return to NHA News Index