SARTA’s ‘Borrow a Bus Zero-Emissions Tour’swings through California


After being sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority’s (SARTA) award-winning Borrow a Bus (BaB) Zero-Emissions Tour resumes on Friday, June 4, 2021, when one of the transit authority’s state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell-powered (HFC) buses begins a week-long eight-stop swing through the state of California.

The Borrow a Bus program is supported by ElDorado National California (ENC®), the industry leader in rightsized heavy-duty transit buses. The hydrogen fueled ENC AXESS FC® never needs gas and only water is emitted from the tailpipe. It is also the only hydrogen bus in the industry that is federally certified for 3-point seat belts. The company, which built the SARTA bus being used on the BaB tour, will provide free technical support and fuel for the vehicle during the California swing.  The tour is also being underwritten by Creative Bus Sales, BAE Systems which manufactures the vehicle’s propulsion system, and Ballard Power Systems the firm that produces the bus’s hydrogen fuel cell.

SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad, who manages one of the nation’s largest fleets of HFC transit vehicles created Borrow a Bus to raise awareness about and generate support for the innovative zero-emission technology.  “Most Americans, including policy-makers and the media, don’t know what fuel cells are or how they work,” Mr. Conrad said. “Giving people across the country the opportunity to see, learn about, and operate a hydrogen fuel cell bus on their roads and highways is the most effective way to demonstrate that HFCs have the potential to totally transform the way vehicles are powered in the U.S. and around the world.”

Along with looking under the hood and kicking the tires, transit managers will be able to review hundreds of thousands of miles worth of real-world data SARTA has collected while operating HFC buses on the streets of Stark County in every weather condition imaginable over the past ten years.

“That data provides clear and convincing evidence that HFC buses deliver much greater range than battery electrics, are both more reliable and affordable to operate, remove tons of pollutants from the air, and, perhaps most importantly from an operational standpoint, take only minutes to refuel,” he continued. “All of which leads to the obvious conclusion that hydrogen is the best alternative fuel solution available in the transportation space,” Mr. Conrad said.

“Borrow a Bus ensures that fuel cells will be a prominent part of the renewable energy conversation as the drive to electrify transportation in the U.S. and the world gains momentum,” Mr. Conrad said. “To date, that conversation has been dominated by the plug-in electric sector. But as more and more people get a close-up look at HFCs and begin comparing performance data, hydrogen is gaining traction because the vehicles offer the efficiency, range, operational capabilities, and rider experience transit professionals are seeking as they strive to achieve their zero-emission goals.”

The week-long BaB California tour includes these stops:

Friday, June 4

10:00 A.M.: Victor Valley Transit Authority, 17150 Smoke Tree St., Hesperia, California

Monday, June 7

10:00 A.M.: San Joaquin Regional Transit District, 421 East Weber Avenue, Stockton, CA

2:00 P.M.: Modesto Regional Transit District at Storer Transportation, 3519 McDonald Ave., Modesto, CA

Tuesday, June 8

10:00 A.M.: SamTrans, 301 North Access Road, South San Francisco, CA

2:00 P.M.: Central Contra Costa Transit, 2477 Arnold Industrial Way, Concord, CA

Wednesday, June 9

9:00 A.M.: Sacramento Regional Transit District, 1400 29th St., Sacramento, CA

2:00 P.M.: Yuba Sutter Transit, 2100 B Street, Marysville, CA

Thursday June 10

10:00 A.M.—3:30 P.M. Redding Area Bus Authority, 3333 S. Market Street, Redding, CA

Since making its first trip to the Central Midlands Transit Authority in Columbia, SC in 2019, the BaB tour has visited Washington, D.C., Alexandria, VA., Chicago, Il, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando, Fl, Lansing, MI, and New Brunswick, NJ.  Along with garnering extensive media coverage at each tour stop, the unique and highly popular promotion earned Calstart’s prestigious Blue Sky Award in 2020.

Canton, Ohio-based SARTA provides a compelling chapter in the fuel cell story. The relatively small public transit agency operates one the largest fleets of hydrogen fuel cell-powered transit vehicles in the U.S. and the world. “What began as an effort to achieve our goal of operating an emissions-free transit system has evolved into a multi-faceted campaign to revolutionize private, commercial, and public transportation in the U.S. and across the world,” Mr. Conrad said. “Education is a key component of that campaign and Borrow a Bus is a great educational tool.”

Leave a Reply