Following initial reports a few years back that Vancouver was planning on investing in a fleet of hydrogen-powered transit buses for the 2010 Olympics, we now have confirmation that the city of Whistler will become host to the world's largest fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell buses, just in time for the Games. Twenty zero-emissions buses will make up the Whistler bus system — a system that will serve as the northern terminus for a so-called "hydrogen highway" up North America's west coast.
Each bus will have 37 seats, a 60-person standing capacity and a top speed of 90 km per hour and — at an individual cost of $2.1 million — will cost about four times as much as a conventional diesel bus. The buses will be built by New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg, and their fuel cells will be provided by Burnaby's Ballard Power Systems. Two other subcontractors — Dynetek Industries of Calgary and ISE Corp. of San Diego — will work on their hydrogen storage system and hybrid drive system, respectively. The first bus is expected to arrive in Victoria for 30 days of on-road testing in July 2008 with the remaining 19 projected to be delivered by December 2009. Whistler will likely also soon have its own hydrogen refuelling station, joining others in Victoria, Surrey and the University of British Columbia.
Despite the high cost — at the current price of hydrogen ($10 - $20 per kg), a day's fill-up could reach $1,200 — Whistler residents are confident they will continue receiving financial support from the government of British Columbia and are hopeful the technology will prove viable in the long-term. "Getting the technology over that initial hurdle is the hardest part. Whether it's widely adopted or not will be something the market will decide," said B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon.
Via ::CanWest News Service: Fuel-cell buses promised for 2010 Olympics (news website)