The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is moving closer to zero emissions thanks to a US$3.8 million grant from the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). The funds from the Low or No Emission Grant Program will allow the agency to deploy two hydrogen fuel cell buses and install accompanying hydrogen-fuelling infrastructure.
Since 2017, transportation has contributed to 41% of greenhouse gas emissions in Nevada. The RTC has long recognised the need to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, and the ongoing climate crisis emphasizes the need for action. Fuel cell buses run on hydrogen, instead of gas or diesel, which don’t produce any greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are fully aware that transportation is a major contributor to air pollution, and this grant will help us to continue to do our part to improve air quality and reduce pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions,” said MJ Maynard, RTC CEO. “As an agency, we are committed to investing in clean transit technology and being innovative. We appreciate the support of our federal delegation, local leaders and business partners who advocated on our behalf.”
The RTC estimates the project will cost US$6 million, with a 65% federal and 35% local split. With the estimated 18-month wait time to procure hydrogen fuel cell buses, it is anticipated the vehicles will hit Las Vegas Valley roads in 2022.
Since 2007, the RTC has been transitioning its fleet to a more environmentally friendly fuel called Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Currently, the agency has 314 CNG buses, which make up 78% of its fixed route bus fleet with a goal of a near 100% CNG fleet by 2023. The RTC’s paratransit fleet of more than 300 vehicles is 100-percent powered by CNG. Reducing the emission of harmful pollutants will provide considerable public health benefits for Southern Nevada, especially in disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately exposed to harmful emissions.