URBANA, Ill. (WAND) - The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District unveiled a first of its kind zero emission fleet technology on Thursday.

MTD announced a newly commissioned, on-site hydrogen production station that is powered by solar energy. The resulting clean hydrogen fuel then powers a 60-foot hydrogen fuel cell bus for MTD's transit system. These buses will emit only water vapor.

"MTD has always been forward thinking, and this project puts MTD right out on the cutting edge. We invite members of the public and the industries of transportation and energy to learn about our project and celebrate this advancement in climate resiliency," said Karl Gnadt, MTD's managing director/CEO.

The renewable energy, zero emission technology, and sustainable transportation was majority grant funded through the State of Illinois and the federal government. Nuria Fernandez, administrator for the Federal Transportation Administration, said this new technology is a step in the right direction and follows the Biden-Harris administration's goal of reducing gas emissions.

"MTS is apart of an exclusive club of transit agencies confronting our crises head-on," Fernandez said. 

The hydrogen fuel cell electric buses will save over 50,000 gallons of diesel per bus each year, according to MTD. One bus reduces greenhouse gases up to 135 tons annually. Each bus can drive 300 miles on a single re-fueling and can be refueled in less than 10 minutes.

"This technology will be the first in the nation that is self-contained, self-sufficient and yes, 100% zero-emission," said Omer Osman, Illinois Transportation Secretary.

This is a project that was years in the making. It completed the federal and state's overall call to create a cleaner and greener country.

"It didn't start last week, this started years ago and now it's a reality in communities like Champaign-Urbana," said Congressman Rodney Davis.

MTD's zero-emission fleet will operate alongside diesel electric hybrid buses. Currently that is 97% of the 114 bus fleet, but MTD announced it will be 100% low or no emission in 2022.

The zero-emission buses will roll out starting Oct. 17.

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