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Region’s 1st hybrid bus unveiled

City takes step in sustainability with fuel cell bus that can travel 250 miles before recharging, officials say. It can carry up to 67 passengers.

May 01, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

DOWNTOWN — Burbank officials on Wednesday unveiled the first plug-in hybrid fuel cell bus in Southern California.

The 35-foot-long bus, which emits water as exhaust and uses a hydrogen fuel cell instead of a gas or diesel engine, will be put into service on city routes beginning next week and can travel 250 miles before recharging, tripling the fuel economy of a diesel bus, officials said.

The California Air Resources Board and state Energy Commission awarded the city $1.37 million to fund the roughly $1.7-million program. Burbank operates a hydrogen station and a stable of converted gas-to-hydrogen Toyota Prius models, City Manager Mike Flad said.


“Growing up in Burbank I can remember more days than not Stage 2 and Stage 3 smog alerts during the summers, and you would swim or play basketball and your lungs would burn and your eyes would burn,” Flad said.

“It is such a great day when we are tackling not only air quality, but tackling traffic and then forging ahead with new innovation in the investment in hydrogen.”

Sustainability, a repeated goal for the council, has manifested itself in the city’s range of public transit options, with every resident living within a 1 1/2 -mile radius of a public park or recreational open space.

BurbankBus operates in and around the city on four fixed routes during morning and evening rush-hour periods.

The system connects commuters at two area Metrolink stations and Metro’s North Hollywood Station to the Media District, downtown and Golden State areas of Burbank, a national test site for zero-emission public transportation.

The fleet comprises 17 compressed natural gas buses.

The fuel cell bus, designed and manufactured by Colorado-based Proterra, can carry up to 67 passengers and recharge in as few as 30 minutes, Mayor Gary Bric said. While the typical commercial bus averages between three and four miles per gallon, the fuel cell vehicle gets about 10 miles per gallon, Bric said.

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