Casey Urges Support for National Fuel Cell Bus Program That Provides Resources to PSU And Altoona

Program Provided Over $60 million in Research Funding Nationwide, Would Increase Research In Alternative Energy At Larson Transportation Institute

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today joined six other senators in writing to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in support of an application for fuel cell bus funding that would directly benefit production in Centre and Blair Counties. The program invests in fuel cell research across the country including at Penn State’s Larson Transportation Institute.  

“The National Fuel Cell Bus Program supports innovative projects that will improve our transportation infrastructure and promote job creation both in Pennsylvania and across the country,” said Senator Casey.  “Centre and Blair Counties are perfect locations for fuel cell research, and I urge Secretary LaHood to give the utmost consideration to this application.”

The application was submitted by CALSTART under the National Fuel Cell Bus (NFCB) Program, a Department of Transportation initiative that partners with industry leaders to provide highly competitive grants for research into the use of fuel cell technology in commercial buses. The program would allocate $554,316 to support the development of an American fuel cell bus that will be fabricated and tested in Altoona.  

Penn State University’s Larson Transportation Institute is partnering in this project through the Center for Bus Research and Testing.  The Center, established in 1989, is funded by the Federal Transit Administration and has examined over 400 different bus makes and models and helped correct more than 8000 defects in new bus models.  The scope of this project includes comprehensive testing of an advanced-propulsion, hydrogen fuel cell powered bus.  The bus will be tested for safety, structural integrity and durability, reliability, performance, fuel efficiency, and noise.  This project will provide the opportunity for the center to upgrade test procedures and equipment to accommodate future advanced hydrogen powered vehicles. The center operates a full-scale test track and employs approximately 40 technicians, test drivers engineers and support staff at facilities in Centre and Blair counties.

CALSTART has previously received five NFCPB grants for projects that work to strengthen the market for zero-emission buses across the country. These projects provide an opportunity to bolster the clean emissions industry,  promote job creation, and provide research data for future deployment opportunities.

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) joined Senator Casey in sending the letter to Secretary LaHood.

The full text of the letter is below: 

The Honorable Ray LaHood


Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE

Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood,

            We write in support of the application submitted by CALSTART for funding available under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program.  As the Department moves forward on evaluating and selecting projects for funding within the program, we ask that you give strong consideration to the entire package of projects submitted by CALSTART.

            CALSTART is a member-supported organization dedicated to expanding and supporting a high-tech clean transportation industry that reduces greenhouse gas emissions promotes efficient and effective transit, and creates jobs.  The package of projects submitted by CALSTART for consideration reflects a diversity of technologies and settings across the country, from California to Illinois, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.  The projects also include a wide range of representation from industry, manufacturers, and transit agencies.

            The proposal package showcases the vision of CALSTART and its partners to implement projects that respond to the goals, objectives, and focus areas outlined by the Federal Transit Administration and the Department of Energy, while also representing the commercial interests of industry partners.  The scope of individual projects in the package ranges from developing fuel cell systems for full-sized forty-foot transit vehicles, to the development of smaller-scale hydrogen fuel cells coupled with hybrid strategies, to targeting specific component developments that lower costs and improve the performance of fuel cell systems.

            We believe that the success of these projects will strengthen the market for zero-emission buses across the country and will play a prominent role in states’ decisions to adopt higher air quality standards. Finally, these projects provide a compelling and innovative opportunity to move this industry forward, promote job creation, and provide much needed research data for future deployment opportunities

            We appreciate your consideration of these projects for the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, and your diligent work promoting the advancement of our Nation’s transportation infrastructure into the 21st Century.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or require additional information.


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