Montgomery Wins $15M Award for First East Coast Hydrogen Electric Bus Project

MCDOT won nearly $15 million for the purchase of 13 new hydrogen fuel cell buses and the construction of a green hydrogen fueling site. 

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has won a competitive grant award of nearly $15 million from the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the purchase of 13 new hydrogen fuel cell buses and the construction of a green hydrogen fueling site at the David F. Bone Equipment Maintenance Transit Operations Center in Gaithersburg. The project will be the first public transit application of green hydrogen on the East Coast.

The award, from FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program, makes the County a leading adopter of this clean technology.

The award will enable the replacement of 13 diesel-fueled buses in the County’s Ride On fleet with zero-emission, hydrogen-electric powered buses. The project advances the County’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2035. It reduces annual emissions by 640 tons while ensuring reliable and sustainable bus service.

According to the press release:

“This is the first project of its kind on the East Coast and drives forward several of our priorities, including converting our bus fleets to clean energy, reducing harmful emissions and improving our transit system—all in alignment with our ambitious climate goals,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I’m pleased that the Federal Transit Administration selected our project for this competitive award and I want to thank the Maryland Delegation for supporting the effort.”

“We are consistently seeking and applying for grants to further the County’s transportation system,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “These hydrogen buses are a key element in reaching our zero-emissions goal. They have a longer service period than electric buses to accommodate longer routes in our system and are faster to refuel. Our track record of innovation and sustainability makes us well-positioned to adopt this technology successfully.”

By producing hydrogen onsite using zero-emission electrolysis, the County avoids the byproducts of traditional fossil fuel-based hydrogen production. The zero-emission buses use hydrogen to power electric motors and emit only water from their tailpipes.

The new fuel cell buses, alongside existing and planned battery-electric buses in the Ride On fleet, will enable MCDOT to provide clean, sustainable and reliable bus service.

The FTA award covers 57 percent of the total $28.6 million dollar of the Montgomery County project. The County will provide the required match from funds programmed in its capital budget for buses.

The buses are expected to be in service by late 2025.

Read the full press release.