Halifax seeks study on adding hydrogen fuel cell buses to transit fleet
Halifax Transit is eyeing the addition of hydrogen-powered buses to its fleet.
The municipality issued a tender on Wednesday seeking a feasibility study of incorporating 40 to 60 hydrogen fuel cell buses into the service.
Patricia Hughes, the director of planning for Halifax Transit, said the study fits into the municipality's climate change goals.
"We're looking forward into the future and thinking about the different emerging technologies and sustainability. We have some goals around climate change through our HalifACT plan. So we're just making sure that we're exploring all of the options to prepare ourselves for the future."
The study will assess hydrogen fuel cell bus technology, its environmental implications, cost and operational requirements.
Electric buses on order
Halifax Transit's fleet of about 350 vehicles is currently diesel- or gasoline-powered, but the municipality is well on its way to adding electric buses. Sixty electric buses are on order, with the first 30 expected to be delivered by the end of 2023 and the remaining 30 anticipated in spring 2024.
The service aims to add a total of 200 electric buses by 2028.
Hughes said although the tender asks for an analysis of adding 40 to 60 hydrogen buses, that isn't necessarily the number the municipality is considering adding. Those figures were chosen to help compare the advantages and disadvantages of electric buses compared with hydrogen buses.
If the municipality moved forward with plans to acquire hydrogen-fuelled buses, the initial purchase quantity could be higher or lower than 40 to 60.
There is likely room for both technologies at Halifax Transit, Hughes said.
"I think electric will be certainly a big part of what the future buses look like, but I think a lot of transit agencies are trying to figure out, you know, between hydrogen and electric, what the mix will be."
It's too early to say where the hydrogen for the fuel cells would come from, or how it would be produced, Hughes said.
Asked whether hydrogen fuel cell buses could tie into plans for local green hydrogen production, Hughes said, "There's definitely connections there, but still a lot of investigation to happen."
The tender does not include a deadline for delivering the study, but Hughes said the municipality expects to work with the winning bidder over the next eight months to a year.
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