When 2010 Winter Olympic athletes were not busy earning gold, silver and bronze, they were enjoying green transportation.
During the Vancouver games, BC Transit operated 20 fuel cell buses in Whistler, which was the site of many Olympic events. Built by New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg, the buses operated on fuel cells provided by Ballard Power Systems in Vancouver and with hydrogen storage from Dynetek Industries in Calgary.
ISE Corp. in San Diego designed the hybrid drive system. Each low-floor bus had a top speed of 55 mph and was able to carry 60 people. The buses were twice as efficient as diesel-powered counterparts and had zero tailpipe emissions.
The world’s largest hydrogen refueling station, B.C. Transit’s new $89.5 million Whistler Transit Centre, is a joint venture between the Canadian and British Columbian governments, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association.
“British Columbia is a world leader in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology,” said BC Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond. “We’ll showcase our achievement for the world to see during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games the greenest Olympic Games ever.”
Joan McIntyre, West Vancouver Sea to Sky Member of the Legislative Assembly, added, “Public transit is extremely popular in Whistler. And, now we have hydrogen fuel cell buses, making the Whistler bus fleet one of the greenest in the world.”
In addition, General Motors provided eight zero-emission, fuel cell Chevrolet Equinoxes to transport Olympic officials, athletes, dignitaries, media representatives and others who needed rides in and around Vancouver.
The Equinox’s 97-horsepower electric motor is nourished by a fuel cell stack powered by three compressed hydrogen tanks at the rear of the SUV. A regenerative braking system also replenishes the nickel hydride battery pack, which resides under the floor in the middle of the vehicle.
The outcome is a four-passenger, nearly silent SUV that accelerates from zero to 62 mph in about 12 seconds.