Mack Gordon and Harry Warren wrote the famous song “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” but the city is making itself famous this time around by rolling out a CARTA hydrogen shuttle bus later this year. Currently Chattanooga is using several 22-foot, all-electric shuttle buses for transportation downtown and will spend nearly $1 million to retrofit one of the buses to run on hydrogen and for the hydrogen fuel itself.
The advantages of the new hydrogen fuel cell bus over the electric buses will be better range, the ability to climb steep hills and the bus would be able to run the entire 13.5 hour workday without refueling (the electric buses’ battery packs need to be swapped out during the middle of the day).
The Chattanooga demonstration project may actually be one stop in a larger hydrogen highway corridor for the area. When reporter Mike Pare, who broke the story for the Chattanooga Times Free Press was asked if Chattanooga and Knoxville are to be part of a larger hydrogen highway system that runs also to Huntsville, Alabama and to Southwest Virginia, he replied, “Yes, it’s my understanding the region would have hydrogen pumping and generating stations to service vehicles.”
As more of these hydrogen highway corridors start to spring up throughout the U. S. (as in California), this will one day give rise to a national hydrogen highway network. This will mean long-distance travel in hydrogen autos will be possible, which is the ultimate goal for the rollout of the infrastructure.
A city hydrogen bus ride in Chattanooga now may turn into a cross-country hydrogen bus ride in the months and years to come. And, let’s not even mention the hydrogen train rides that will also be a part of this developing landscape.