National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Speech at Thousand Palms, CA


10-12-06

Remarks
Administrator James Simpson
Federal Transit Administration
10:30 a.m., Thursday, October 12, 2006
Thousand Palms, California
National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Development Program

Thank you for that kind introduction. I'm delighted to be here today on behalf of President Bush and our new Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, to announce the recipients of our national Fuel Cell Bus Technology grants. 

Let me first acknowledge and thank our host, SunLine Transit.  The Sun Fuels Hydrogen Fueling Station is a perfect venue for today’s announcement.  This morning, Mike gave me a first-hand look at some of the impressive technological advances Sun Fuels is pursuing.  Clearly, this company is a leader when it comes to new transit technology.

 I also want to acknowledge the outstanding work of your local Congresswoman Mary Bono.  Congresswoman Bono… along with Congressman Jim Oberstar of Minnesota…championed the new National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Development Program in Congress. 

The transit industry has long served as an incubator for new ideas and innovation.  And thanks to these congressional leaders, it is positioned to continue that tradition.   The National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Development Program marshals the know-how, innovation, and experience of the transit community to make hydrogen power a legitimate transportation option.

It is an investment in our transit future…  and an investment in an energy future that meets President Bush’s goal of ending our nation’s addiction to foreign oil.

The $49 million in approved funding will support development of commercially viable fuel cell bus technologies and infrastructure.  And, it will hasten the day when communities across America can enjoy quiet, pollution-free, and efficiently powered fuel-cell buses.  We look forward to seeing fuel-cell buses become an affordable option for transit agencies, and an attractive business proposition for bus manufacturers.

Before that day can come, however, there are challenges to overcome – some are technological; others are economic.  Among the most pressing are bringing down the costs of fuel cell buses, increasing their durability and reliability, and developing an infrastructure to support them. 

So today, I am pleased to announce the three organizations that will receive federal grants to help solve these challenges and make fuel cell buses a viable option.

The Center for Transportation and the Environment in Atlanta, the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium in Boston, and Weststart/CALSTART of Pasadena, California, will each receive a share of the $49 million for fuel cell bus technology research.

These organizations were selected through a competitive process.  They represent diverse geographic areas, and they are leaders in research into fuel cell technologies.

I would like to take this time to recognize our Consortium awardees who are with us here today and congratulate them:

• Dan Raudebaugh (Ro-da-baw), Executive Director of the Center for Transportation and the Environment
• Jack Requa from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority – Representing the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium.
• And..John Boesel – President and CEO of WESTART-CALSTART

In fact, the Westart/CALSTART team will include SunLine Transit. 

 It’s not surprising that SunLine will be a part of this research.  As the first transit agency to run an entire fleet of buses on Clean Natural Gas, it has already blazed a trail in the area of alternative fuels.

SunLine Transit and its research partners—New Flyer Industries, ISE Corp. and UTC Fuel Cells—will receive $2.8 million to design and demonstrate 40-foot fuel cell buses, and to evaluate their performance in a hot desert climate.

SunLine is also among those receiving $3.6 million to test the life expectancy of an existing line of fuel cell buses.
The National Fuel Cell Bus Program sets forth a timely mission for the transit community.

We are beginning this work with clear goals, and all possible solutions are on the table. 

With energy, years of collective experience, and innovation behind it, we anticipate important breakthroughs from the Fuel Cell Bus Program's research and development.

The Bush Administration has set an ambitious goal:  America must break its dependency on Middle East oil by 75 percent in the next two decades. Projects such as these will help ensure that we achieve it.  
 
Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are a part of the solution to oil dependence. Today, as we announce these funds, I am optimistic that we are on the cusp of a new age for public transit, one in which fuel alternatives can reach their true potential. 

Now let me turn this event over to the champion of this program in the U.S. House of Representatives Mary Bono. 

Thank you.