January 29, 2010 Features & Images » Feature Story

The dream bus stops here 

Fuel cell vehicles can deliver more than a nice ride — if we don’t ditch them


Around the world, people are getting cranked up riding - and it's not on snowboards. Traditionally, Canada has owned the podium when it comes to hydrogen fuel cells, which are delivering exciting new transportation options to riders and drivers worldwide.

For some, Whistler's zero-emission fuel cell bus fleet represents the start of a dream come true and a critical first step towards a renewable energy future.

But just as more of the world is getting excited and joining the fuel cell race, it looks like our own federal government - and a lot of Joe Averages - are jumping off the lead car.


Scenario One:

It's the first few days in October last year. Cool here in Sea to Sky country. Brisk.

Globally, massive UN send-lists are pumping out invitations for side events and press conferences at the COP 15 talks in Copenhagen on climate change, which some scientists called the most important event in the history of humanity.

Meanwhile, a parallel universe is unfolding in Vancouver as the first B.C. Transit hydrogen fuel cell bus bound for Whistler rolls out.

For most, it's a real-time look at the largest fleet of fuel cell vehicles in the world in one location. And they're powered by technology that Canada, especially B.C., is world-renowned for being the leader in - fuel cells, in this case ones built by Ballard right in our own back yard.

By the end of November, while Bus No. 1 rolls up Highway 99 to pick up its first passengers, security is setting up in Copenhagen's streets, in part to control anticipated protests by disillusioned souls.

Fast forward to last week: the full fleet of 20 fuel cell buses goes live at Whistler, tipping urban mass transit on its ear by transporting passengers with a net 62 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions - 1,800 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide - than any regular diesel bus could hope to. (Actually, the buses have no emissions except water - I've tasted it. But, fairly or not, some people are factoring in the emissions caused by trucking some of the hydrogen fuel from Quebec.)

Worldwide, disappointment over the Copenhagen talks still reverberates.


Scenario Two:

It's early June last year. The sky across Sea to Sky country to the U.S. border is brown and thick with smoke from wildfires burning out of control near Lillooet due to record low moisture levels. (NASA would later report that 2009 was the second warmest year on record.)

Readers also liked…

  • Mind Maze

    How young adults are navigating the path to mental health in Whistler
    • Mar 25, 2018
  • Death in the Alpine

    Social media is changing our relationship to risk, with deadly consequences
    • Jun 10, 2018

Latest in Feature Story

  • Deadly decisions

    Critics say the BC Conservation officer Service is overly reliant on lethal force—it maintains they are only seeing a 'snapshot' of what they do
    • Oct 11, 2019
  • Whatcha Smokin'?

    Canadians face lifetime bans to U.S. over past cannabis use, CBD oils and social media posts
    • Oct 4, 2019
  • Paradise found

    Searching for the families that quietly waited out doomsday deep in the Cayoosh Range mountains
    • Sep 28, 2019
  • More »

More by Glenda Bartosh

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation