The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has announced plans to purchase ten fuel-cell electric buses from New Flyer of America, a move that is expected to help the transit authority evaluate the technology and eventually move towards a fully zero-emission bus fleet. The contract includes not only the delivery of ten 40-foot low-floor fuel cell electric buses, but also fueling infrastructure, training aids, and tools and equipment. The new vehicles are expected to be implemented by the summer of 2024.
SEPTA has been a leader in the transit industry for over two decades, having already transitioned over 90% of its current buses to electric-diesel hybrids. However, the company is now looking to eliminate the combustion part of that balance and fully eliminate emissions from its fleet. The initial acquisition of the fuel-cell electric buses, as well as fueling infrastructure, training aids, tools and equipment, will cost SEPTA $17,051,216.
“With this pilot program for fuel cell electric buses, we will similarly be on the cutting edge of zero-emission technology,” said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr.
New Flyer of America has been very active in North America lately, having signed four new electric bus supply contracts in January alone, covering Ohio, Wisconsin, Winnipeg and Pittsburgh. While most of the orders have been for battery-electric buses, there is a growing interest in hydrogen fuel-cell bus fleets, particularly in California. Just before the state order, the city of San Francisco had also ordered a fleet of hydrogen buses.
SEPTA's purchase of fuel-cell electric buses is a positive step in the push for cleaner and more sustainable transportation options. With the transit industry continuing to prioritize the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, it's likely that we'll see more initiatives like this in the coming years.