Humboldt will deploy 11 New Flyer fuel cell electric buses (FCEBS), similar to AC Transit FCEB shown here.  -  CTE/AC Transit

Humboldt will deploy 11 New Flyer fuel cell electric buses (FCEBS), similar to AC Transit FCEB shown here.

CTE/AC Transit

With the support of the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), the Humboldt Transit Authority (HTA) has been awarded a $38.7M grant from the California State Transportation Agency’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) to deploy 11 New Flyer fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) and a hydrogen fueling station at HTA’s facility in Eureka, California.

CTE played a key role in field demonstration to determine range and operating capability, assisted in grant writing, and will continue to serve as a subcontractor to help ensure success and mitigate risks associated with the deployment.

Humboldt County currently operates a fleet of 53 buses, serving 600,000 riders a year. Replacing 11 diesel buses with hydrogen fuel cell electric buses will eliminate more than 120,000 gallons of diesel annually and expand intercity bus service between Eureka and Ukiah, which in turn improves the connection with Sonoma County’s SMART Train and fills service gaps left by Amtrak and Greyhound.

Founding Director of the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) at Cal Poly Humboldt, Peter Lehman and SERC staff led the effort to prepare HTA’s application for the $38.7M grant, with assistance from CTE.

“We’re delighted to be teaming with HTA, CTE, and other project partners on this pioneering project,” Lehman said. “The Schatz Center has been working on hydrogen technology for over 30 years — first with SunLine Transit in Southern California and then with AC Transit in the Bay Area. Now, we’re bringing the technology home. Introducing zero-emission buses and hydrogen fueling infrastructure here in Humboldt County is a dream come true.”

The future of the North Coast requires significantly expanding transit services to meet its citizens’ needs. To meet those needs equitably, this project will serve numerous census tracts with multiple population-characteristic burdens that are higher than the state median, including extremely high poverty, unemployment, and housing burden scores.

Climate change impacts are also a major concern in the region, from wildfires to sea level rise around Humboldt Bay, where many of the North Coast’s citizens live. The project will enable HTA to take aggressive action to mitigate these impacts by beginning to transition their fleet to zero-emission buses and catalyzing the development of hydrogen fueling infrastructure in the area.

In addition to enhancing transit connectivity through Northern California, this project includes the construction of an intermodal transit and housing facility in downtown Eureka. The Eureka Regional Transit and Housing Center — EaRTH Center — will integrate local and intercity bus service with carshare, rideshare, bicycle paths, and pedestrian travel, as well as provide workforce and student housing, a childcare center, retail, and open space co-located with transit at the center.