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Ohio State awarded $1.5 million for national low-emission bus testing program

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced The Ohio State University will receive $1.5 million in competitive federal funding to test bus components that will help increase use of low or no emission buses in public transportation.

The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) awarded the $1.5 million grant through its Low or No (LoNo) Emission Bus Component Testing program, making Ohio State one of just two universities nationwide to be selected for the testing program. The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) will partner with university-affiliated Transportation Research Center (TRC) to help FTA develop the most energy-efficient buses possible. Only Ohio State and Auburn University will be eligible to compete for an additional $12 million of federal funding that will be made available over the next four years. 

“The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research and the Transportation Research Center have provided world-class research and testing for dozens of years, and this award will put them at the center of nationwide efforts to increase energy efficiency in our public transit system,” said Brown. “With this funding, Ohio continue its leadership role in developing our next generation of low and no emission buses.”

“CAR and TRC are frequent research collaborators,” said CAR Director Giorgio Rizzoni. “Here we will support the FTA’s mission by providing unbiased assessments of components used in transit buses to encourage the commercialization of low- and no-emissions technologies that will enable clean and efficient public transportation in America’s cities. This program is perfectly aligned with our College of Engineering’s strategic vision for sustainable and intelligent mobility.”

Brown—who serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees FTA—created the testing program during Senate consideration of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, and he doubled federal investment in zero-emission public transit projects. Brown also wrote to FTA in December 2016 in support of Ohio State’s application for the funding.

In April of last year, CAR teamed up with the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) to unveil a new hydrogen fuel cell-powered, zero emission bus at the Ohio Statehouse.

The new hydrogen fuel cell bus—the first to operate in Ohio—is being used on Ohio State’s main campus to collect data for CAR researchers to analyze. Ohio State’s Department of Transportation and Traffic Management will operate the bus as part of its CABS fleet before it begins shuttling Stark County passengers next year.