Hydrogen buses await their fate, fuel stacks shipped out of Whistler 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CLARE OGILVIE - hydrogen buses finished Workers take down the hydrogen fuel towers from B.C. Transit's Whistler facility near Nesters.
  • photo by clare ogilvie
  • hydrogen buses finished Workers take down the hydrogen fuel towers from B.C. Transit's Whistler facility near Nesters.

The two big white hydrogen cylinder stacks that have fuelled Whistler's buses these past five years have been dismantled and shipped out of town — a symbolic end to the Olympic hydrogen experiment.

Twenty diesel buses are now back in the Whistler rotation.

Meanwhile, the 20 buses that were part of the $89.5 million hydrogen project remain parked at the Whistler Transit facility north of the village, their fate as yet undetermined.

"That process is complete," said Meribeth Burton, corporate spokesperson for BC Transit in an emailed statement of the changeover. "It was a seamless transition and there were no cancelled services or interruptions for our customers."

As for the parked fuel cell buses, their future is up in the air.

"BC Transit is researching options for the decommissioned hydrogen fuelled buses, which could include repowering or repurposing," emailed Burton.

The total cost of the project was shared by the federal and provincial governments, the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and the municipality. Whistler's $16.8 million contribution was the cost the municipality would have paid for a diesel fuel fleet over the five-year project.

Home to the world's largest fleet of hydrogen buses, the Whistler project was designed to showcase fuel cell technology in the media spotlight of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

David Asselin, communications manager with Air Liquide, the Quebec-based company that owned the fuelling station, could not say where the stacks have gone.

"We're taking it back into our pool of assets... to be reused for other facilities," he said.

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