Community Transit Receives Region’s First Hydrogen-Powered Electric Bus


Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, is the first public transit agency in the Puget Sound region to conduct a pilot test of a fuel-cell electric bus (FCEB), set to be in service later this year. In addition to the FCEB manufactured by New Flyer, the agency also recently took delivery of its first battery-electric bus (BEB) from Gillig.

“Riding the bus is already one of the most effective things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, and moving away from diesel-powered buses reduces that impact even more,” said Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz. “Our journey toward a zero-emissions fleet continues as we prepare to learn real-life lessons by putting a fuel-cell electric bus in service along with a battery-electric bus.”

Because of Snohomish County’s varied routes and terrain, and its large service area, the agency will test and evaluate the performance of both types of electric buses in service. Close monitoring will validate the performance assumptions in the agency’s transition plan, which envisions use of FCEB technology on heavy duty routes such as the Swift BRT lines, where greater battery range would be necessary.

The new zero-emissions buses are currently undergoing preparations for their service debut. The buses are being outfitted with onboard technology and other standard equipment, such as a fare box so they can run just like the existing Community Transit fleet. Customers will notice a quieter ride and a new bold, signature design on the outside of these buses, but the rest of their experience will feel totally familiar.

Community Transit expects to transition 30 percent of its 260-bus fleet by 2030. The agency’s long-range plan, Journey 2050, establishes a target of achieving a full transition to zero-emissions buses by 2044.

“This is the beginning of a two-decade plan to achieve a full conversion to a zero emissions fleet by 2044,” said Ilgenfritz. “In addition to seeing how the buses perform in operation, we’ll continue to explore charging and fueling options as well as train and build our workforce.”

Regular service on the BEB is expected to start this summer while service on the FCEB will start in the fall.