Whistler’s hydrogen bus fleet recently passed the one million-kilometer mark after almost a year-and-a-half in operation, and while it was a bumpy start with stalled buses it’s now a rarity to see one stuck on the side of the highway.
According to BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha, fleet operations have improved. Significant improvements have been made with software modifications, thus by Fall Whistler had increased reliability in hydrogen bus operations.
The five-year, $89 million pilot project – a joint effort between BC Transit, the provincial and federal governments and the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association – started in late 2009 and by the 2010 Games there were 20 buses serving Whistler, making it the largest hydrogen bus fleet in the world. Those buses will remain here for the duration of the pilot project, which concludes in 2014.
Whistler was chosen for the pilot for various reasons. Certainly the Olympics played a part by ensuring maximum visibility for the buses, giving the partners an opportunity to show off their technologies and commitment to the environment. The Resort Municipality of Whistler is also aggressively pursuing a goal of becoming environmentally sustainable and has signed on to the B.C. Climate Action Charter to become carbon neutral by 2012.
Most importantly, Whistler is an ideal testing ground for vehicles – high ridership, long shifts (up to 21 hours), rolling hills and every type of weather and road condition imaginable. If the buses work here, Achadinha noted in 2010, they can work almost anywhere.