March 11, 2010

SunLine rolls out 6th gen hydrogen fuel bus


FTA official Vincent Valdes (shown left) and SunLine General Manager C. Mikel Oglesby were on hand to unveil the Advanced Technology (AT) bus


Thousand Palms, Calif.-based SunLine Transit Agency unwrapped its newest hydrogen fuel cell bus to kick off its 3rd Annual “State of Public Transit” Luncheon in late February.

Guests toured SunLine’s new Advanced Technology (AT) bus, a 40-foot, low-floor New Flyer model that features the latest advances in hydrogen fuel cell reliability, performance and weight reduction.

The hybrid-electric fuel cell drive system, developed by ISE Corp., is an identical configuration to the 20 ISE-powered buses that make up the world’s largest zero-emission fleet operated by BC Transit in Canada. The core components of ISE’s hybrid-electric drive system in this bus are lithium-based energy storage, software controls and robust power electronics.

In addition to ISE’s hybrid-electric fuel cell drive system, SunLine’s Advanced Technology fuel cell bus also incorporates a 150kW fuel cell manufactured by Ballard Power Systems.

Among the features: a smaller and lighter fuel cell power plant; lighter hydrogen storage tanks; a smaller fuel cell thermal management system; new and improved high-voltage battery technology, as well as the latest in diagnostic tools and data collection.

The eye-catching bus, with exterior feature images depicting a child blowing bubbles that symbolize a future of clean, renewable energy, is the 6th-generation hydrogen fuel vehicle introduced by SunLine.

The agency’s groundbreaking use of zero-emission fuel dates back to 2005 when it placed its first fuel cell bus in service. It’s all part of SunLine’s legacy of championing the use of alternative fuels for public transportation, a practice that began in 1994 with the conversion of its entire fleet to clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG), according to a press release.

Frank Cullen, Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif) teamed with SunLine GM C. Mikel Oglesby to unveil the AT bus. The event also featured a series of presentations, including a keynote speech by Federal Transit Administration (FTA) official Vincent Valdes. Valdes serves as associate administrator, research, demonstration and innovation at the FTA offices in Washington D.C. In his current role, he manages an office of 40 program managers, transportation specialists and engineers who work on the FTA’s critical transit research activities.

The program provides research leadership to the transit industry and facilitates the development of transit technologies and techniques that support national transportation goals. He delivered an overview of current research and development programs and how they support agencies such as SunLine Transit.

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