This report presents results of a demonstration of fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) operating in Oakland, California. Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) leads the Zero Emission Bay Area (ZEBA) demonstration, which includes 13 advanced-design fuel cell buses and two hydrogen fueling stations. The FCEBs in service at AC Transit are 40-foot, low-floor buses built by Van Hool with a hybrid electric propulsion system that includes a UTC Power-designed PC40 fuel cell power system and EnerDel lithium-based energy storage system. The buses began revenue service in May 2010.

The ZEBA partners are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to evaluate the buses in revenue service. NREL has been evaluating FCEBs under funding from DOE and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). NREL uses a standard data-collection and analysis protocol originally developed for DOE heavy-duty vehicle evaluations.1 NREL has published four previous reports describing operation of these buses. This report presents new and updated results covering data from January 2015 through December 2015.

The focus of this evaluation is to compare the performance of the FCEBs to that of conventional technology buses and to track progress over time toward meeting the technical targets set by DOE and FTA. In the commercialization process that begins at technology readiness level (TRL) 1—basic research/concept—and ends at TRL 9—commercial deployment, NREL considers the ZEBA buses to be at TRL 7. At this point of development, the manufacturers’ goals for the demonstration are to verify that the FCEB performance meets the technical targets and identify any issues that need to be resolved. NREL collects data on 10 Gillig conventional diesel buses for a baseline comparison at AC Transit.
Since the last report, there have been multiple accomplishments.

  • The FCEBs have surpassed a million miles (1,335,412 miles) and 152,061 hours on the fuel cell power systems and have used 200,149 kg of hydrogen.
  • AC Transit added a 13th bus to the fleet. This bus was part of the original order of Van Hool FCEBs and was first operated by Connecticut Transit in Hartford with funding through FTA’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program. The bus was placed into service at AC Transit in October 2015
  • The FCEBs were operated out of two divisions during the evaluation period: four buses operated from the Emeryville Division, and the remaining nine buses operated from the Oakland Division
  • The 13 fuel cell power plants (FCPP) continue to accumulate high hours of service. One FCPP has surpassed the DOE/FTA 2016 target of 18,000 hours, accumulating 21,422 hours by the end of the data period for the report (22,394 as of April 30, 2016). This is a record number of hours documented to date on a fuel cell in a transit application. In all, 77% of these FCPPs (10 out of 13) have surpassed 12,000 hours of operation
  • AC Transit and its manufacturer partners continue to ramp up service of the FCEBs, including troubleshooting, maintenance, and training for all involved. The buses are now being operated on any routes out of the two depots that are serviced by 40-foot buses (with the exception of commuter routes)
  • All maintenance has been fully transitioned to in-house staff, and AC Transit has begun building a program to integrate the FCEB maintenance training into its standard training program.
  • The Oakland hydrogen station was completed by adding an electrolyzer and gaseous hydrogen buffer tank. The electrolyzer is powered by a stationary fuel cell that uses directed biogas.

The full report is available for download