The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD) is to benefit from a cash boost of $1.45m to buy two zero-emission, hydrogen (H2) fuel cell electric buses and associated infrastructure.

The Low-No Emissions Grant is offered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to support the transition of the nation’s transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy efficient transit vehicles. Such a purchase will make CUMTD the first transit authority in the State of Illinois to add fuel cell electric buses to their fleet.

The new buses will replace two of the standard diesel-powered buses that are 16 years old.

Dick Durbin, Illinois Senator, said the implementation of these two fuel cell buses is sure to pave the way for the future use of clean and viable energy in both the Champaign-Urbana area and the rest of the state of Illinois.

CUMTD’s Managing Director, Karl Gnadt, added, “MTD has long been on the front edge of technological advances. With this Low-No Emissions Grant, CUMTD will be the first transit system in the country to commercially operate 60-foot, articulated, H2 fuel cell electric buses. This is fantastic news for the University of Illinois campus and the greater Champaign-Urbana area.

“We are grateful that Representative Rodney Davis and Senators Durbin and Duckworth worked together to show support for this local initiative that advances positive, sustainable programs here at home. This grant would not have been possible without their support.”

The H2 fuel cell buses are expected to hit the road in 2019.