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NCTD gets federal funds for 8 zero-emission buses

North County Transit District announced it has been awarded a $4.8 million grant to help buy eight hydrogen fuel cell electric buses.

The money from the Federal Transit Administration’s 2021 Bus and Bus Facilities Program brings the transit district closer to its goal of deploying 25 of the hydrogen-powered buses by March 2025.

“NCTD remains committed to being on the forefront of zero-emissions technology, providing clean transportation choices for our customers, and improving the air quality in our communities,” said Jewel Edson, the NCTD board chair and a Solana Beach City Council member, in a news release. “We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Mike Levin to bring these funds to our area to benefit the region.”

Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, also helped the district procure a $1.7 million grant for the construction of a hydrogen fuel station.

“The transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles is critical to protecting the health of our community and our planet, and I am proud of NCTD for leading in the effort,” Levin said in the news release.

A single fully equipped hydrogen fuel cell electric bus costs about $1.3 million. The NCTD board is expected to approve the purchase of eight of the vehicles at its monthly meeting on Thursday.

The district expects to complete construction of its hydrogen fueling infrastructure in the summer of 2023, and the first of the buses are expected to be delivered in the fall of 2023.

When completed the hydrogen fuel system is expected to accommodate as many as 50 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses.

Fuel cells combine oxygen from the atmosphere with the hydrogen fuel to create water, releasing protons and electrons that power the vehicle or charge a battery. Water vapor is the only emission.

Vehicles using the fuel cells can refuel in 15 minutes and have a range of 300 miles.