WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) $4,015,174 to purchase three additional zero-emission fuel cell buses. This purchase will give SARTA – which had previously ordered seven fuel cell buses with FTA’s assistance – the largest fuel cell fleet in the country, outside of California. Next week, SARTA will unveil the first of its hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses at the Ohio Statehouse to be operated on the Ohio State University’s campus as part of a technology demonstration project.
“This investment is further proof that Stark County is a national leader in innovative transportation options that get Ohioans to work or school, while helping to reduce emissions,” said Brown. “With this funding, SARTA will be able to expand its growing fleet of zero-emission buses and help reduce emissions in public transportation.”
“These new zero emission buses will replace old diesel buses that are beyond their useful life with buses that are more fuel efficient and produce no pollution,” said Kirt Conrad, SARTA’s CEO. “This funding places Ohio’s fuel cell industry in a leadership position in the country for job creation.”
This investment builds on the $8,877,405 awarded to SARTA in February 2015 to purchase five zero-emission fuel cell buses through the Low or No Emission Deployment Program and earlier federal funding for the initial two vehicles. Using hydrogen fuel cell buses as their power source, rather than diesel, makes these buses more energy efficient, reducing dependency on foreign oil, and cutting down on emissions. In March 2014, Brown wrote a letter to then FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, urging him to give SARTA’s proposal full and fair consideration.
Brown – who serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees the Federal Transit Administration – has championed federal investment in zero-emission buses. During Senate consideration of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act last year, Brown worked to double federal investment in zero-emission projects in public transit.
In 2009, Brown helped secure $1 million for Stark State College to upgrade the clean room at the school’s Fuel Cell Prototyping Center. That project brought critical fuel cell technology innovation to Ohio, providing students with first-hand training opportunities to advance and commercialize a one-megawatt, solid-oxide fuel cell. In Oct. 2012, Brown wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary urging DOE’s continuation of the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell program.
In January 2013, Brown toured the LG Fuel Cell Prototype Center at Stark State College and called for continued investment in Ohio’s emerging clean energy sector.