NCTD receives $4-million grant to support transition to zero-emissions bus operations

May 18, 2021
The funds will help deliver significant air quality and operational benefits to the San Diego region.

A $4-million grant was awarded to the North County Transit District (NCTD) by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to construct a hydrogen fueling station at the agency’s West Division BREEZE facility in Oceanside.  

Once constructed, this station will have the capacity to support up to 50 hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses, bringing the district closer toward achieving its goal of transitioning its entire fleet to zero-emission buses by 2042. 

“NCTD remains committed to being on the forefront of zero-emissions technology, providing clean transportation choices for our customers, and improving the air quality in our communities. This grant will enable us to do just that and accelerate our transition to a zero-emission fleet,” said Tony Kranz, NCTD Board chair and Encinitas deputy mayor. “What’s more, this new technology and infrastructure will improve overall BREEZE operations by decreasing the time needed to refuel, expanding the service range and increasing the fuel economy of our fleet.” 

The CEC grant advances NCTD’s transition from compressed natural gas to zero-emissions bus operations by approximately four years, allowing the agency to rapidly scale up and leverage an initial purchase of 25 hydrogen-powered buses, set to be put into service by spring 2025. NCTD says the construction of the fueling station and anticipated deployment of new zero-emission buses puts the agency ahead of local, state and federal goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. 

“We’re thrilled for NCTD to receive this grant and take significant steps toward improving air quality, public health and the safety of their community,” said Patty Monahan, commissioner, CEC. “The accelerated deployment of zero-emission transit solutions demonstrates NCTD’s commitment to providing the community equitable, clean transportation and supports social mobility through increased access to education, jobs, and community resources. This effort is yet another example how public-interest investment in clean transportation infrastructure catalyzes change in real, tangible ways and drives a transformation in how California moves.” 

Zero-emission fuel cell buses run on oxygen and hydrogen, emitting only water vapor while in operation. The new fueling station and buses are estimated to reduce bus service carbon dioxide output by 78,825-metric tons annually – roughly the same amount of emissions from 200 million miles driven by an average passenger car. 

The project is funded by the CEC’s Clean Transportation Program, which invests more than $100 million annually to support innovation and accelerate the deployment of advanced transportation and fuel technologies.   

NCTD intends to design, construct and commission the hydrogen fueling station infrastructure at its Oceanside facility by mid-2022.