The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has won a competitive grant award of nearly $15 million from the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to purchase 13 new hydrogen fuel cell buses.
The buses are expected to be in service by late 2025. The grant also covers constructing a green hydrogen fueling site at the David F. Bone Equipment Maintenance Transit Operations Center in Gaithersburg. The project will be the first public transit application of green hydrogen on the East Coast.
The award will enable the replacement of 13 diesel-fueled buses in the County’s Ride On fleet with zero-emission, hydrogen-electric powered buses. The project advances the County’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2035. It reduces annual emissions by 640 tons while ensuring reliable and sustainable bus service.
By producing hydrogen onsite using zero-emission electrolysis, the County avoids the byproducts of traditional fossil fuel-based hydrogen production. The zero-emission buses use hydrogen to electric power motors and emit only water from their tailpipes.
The new fuel cell buses, alongside existing and planned battery-electric buses in the Ride On fleet, will enable MCDOT to provide clean, sustainable and reliable bus service.
In March 2022, FTA announced approximately $1.1 billion available to jurisdictions across the name for grants to assist the modernization of bus fleets and to help transit agencies purchase or lease low- or no- emission vehicles that use advanced technologies to help improve air quality and combat climate change. FTA received 530 eligible project proposals totalling approximately $7.72 billion in requests.
These are the first of the FTA’s competitive grant selections under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The programs support the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to expanding the nation’s transportation infrastructure, creating and maintaining good-paying jobs and fighting climate change.
The FTA award covers 57% of the Montgomery County project’s total $28.6 million dollar. The County will provide the required match from funds programmed in its capital budget for buses.
MCDOT continues its commitment to moving to a zero-emissions fleet. In September 2017, MCDOT received an FTA grant for $1.75 million to purchase four electric buses and charging stations. Those buses are currently in service in the Silver Spring area. MCDOT received more than $4 million from another FTA grant to replace 10 diesel buses with new electric models. Those buses will be in service later this year.
Montgomery County is partnering with industry experts to deliver the project. The Center for Transportation and the Environment, a nonprofit national leader in zero-emission bus deployments, will provide technical assistance. Trillium, a leading provider of clean fuels, will design and construct the hydrogen fueling station.