Two hydrogen-powered transit buses, which arrived on P.E.I. in 2007 and have been running as part of Charlottetown Transit, are being shipped back to Ford.


The hydrogen buses took two hours to fuel up. ((CBC))

The buses were an experiment in partnership with the motor vehicle company. The two hydrogen buses were environmentally-friendly; the only exhaust was water.

But they were very expensive to run. The hydrogen fuel had to be trucked from Quebec to a storage tank on the Island, and fueling each bus took two hours every morning. The original plan was to use hydrogen produced by wind turbines at North Cape, but those production plans were scaled back and there was never enough to run buses.

Ottawa provided $275,000 the province $100,000, and Air Liquide Canada - the fuel supplier - $175,000 to run the buses. They have been in storage since last summer, when the money ran out.

The province was asking Ottawa for another $400,000 to $500,000 to run the project for another two years, but that didn't come through.

The buses go back to Ford this week, but the province says the experiment was worthwhile.

"It provided us an opportunity to get familiar with hydrogen," said Mark Victor, senior project coordinator with the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.

"Not just ourselves working with it: government inspectors that look at those types of facilities, the service technicians, and the people that rode on the buses. It was generally very well-received."

Victor said if Ford wants to do any more testing the Island now has the expertise to do it.

The loss of the two buses won't affect Charlottetown Transit. They were always considered extra vehicles.