91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Flint MTA exchanging diesel buses for hydrogen

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) steps from a hydrogen powered bus in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) steps from a hydrogen-powered bus in Flint, Michigan.

Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority is preparing to trade in its last diesel buses for new hydrogen powered models.

A $4.3 million federal grant is helping to pay for the new buses.

The transit system started using hydrogen to power one of its buses more than a decade ago as an experiment. Flint’s buses also run on compressed natural gas and propane.

Ed Benning is the general manager of Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority. He said the MTA is at a “very important” place in planning for the transit system’s future, which includes applying for a $52 million grant.

“That grant will allow us to bring in 20 more hydrogen vehicles to our community,” said Benning.

State officials were in Genesee County last week to praise the Flint MTA’s switch.

Zach Kolodin is Michigan’s Chief Infrastructure Officer. He said Flint’s bus system is an example to other communities looking to utilize alternative fuels.

“I think this project is such a perfect example of everything that we’re building,” said Kolodin. “It's a project that can decarbonize our transportation sector. And it can also clean up the air in an environmental justice community.”

The Whitmer administration proposes adding $45 million to the state’s Michigan Clean Fleet Initiative. The Initiative provides incentives to local governments and businesses exploring electric vehicles and alternative fuels.

After a brief ride in Flint’s hydrogen powered bus, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said it’s “very cool.”

“The benefits of switching to cleaner buses are clear,” Whitmer told reporters.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.