BAE Systems gets millions to make more electric buses

By Kelly McCarthy

September 5, 2013 Updated Sep 6, 2013 at 12:14 AM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Millions of dollars is going to BAE Systems in Endicott to keep producing entirely electric buses that only emit water vapor.

They're called Fuel Cell buses and they are public transit buses that use green energy sources.

The Federal Transit Administrator took a tour of the Endicott facility that employs roughly 230 people before announcing the big news.

BAE has helped put two of the Fuel Cell buses on the road and they have four more in progress.

This federal grant will help create at least another four buses in the future.

The U.S. Department of Transportation uses the program to advance American-made fuel cell technology.

BAE Systems designs and assembles all of the electric work while other companies around the country make other parts of the bus.

"We've been able to turn the tables," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. "Such that BAE here in Endicott is actually exporting equipment to Europe rather than having US transit agencies have to use local tax dollars to import equipment from Europe

The Federal Transit Administration's National Fuel Cell Bus Program is in its sixth and final year.

They've already handed out $90 million through this program and this final grant will be $13.6 million divided among the production companies.

"These programs wouldn't happen without the funding," said Steve Trichka, general manager of BAE Systems HybriDrive Solutions. "A standard transit bus in a municipality usually costs around $350,000. These buses are running slightly under a million dollars per copy right now. Without federal funding I don't think anybody would be buying these buses right now."

The FTA said its next step will be awarding grants to Transit Agencies to purchase low- or zero-emission buses to get them on the road.

So far none of the finished buses are running locally, but Tompkins County transit will be awarded one of the new fuel cell buses after production.