CHAMPAIGN – Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) visited the Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District facility on July 17 to celebrate the federal funding of 10 new electric hybrid buses.
Those buses will be operational in about 18 months, said MTD managing director.
During his visit, Sen. Durbin addressed his concerns about climate change, noting extreme weather events like floods, wildfire smoke, and heat waves.
“Mother Earth is sending this message: wake up, do something now before it gets worse,” said Sen. Durbin.
He said that the MTD in Champaign-Urbana is one of the very few actually listening to that message.
“They’re setting the example here at this MTD,” said Sen. Durbin. “They’re leading our state and, frankly, they’re leading the nation.”
The MTD retired their final four full diesel buses back in May, making their fleet full of 116 hybrid buses and two fuel cell buses that run on hydrogen.
“The hybrid buses that we’re getting use 50% less diesel fuel than just a regular pure diesel bus,” said Karl Gnadt, MTD managing director. “That’s dramatic, that’s a lot less fossil fuel that we’re burning.”
Gnadt said that they have 10 more fuel cell buses in production that will be operational by the end of the year.
“The hydrogen fuel cell bus, we don’t use any fossil fuel, we’re using solar energy to produce the hydrogen, which is the fuel onboard the vehicle, and there’s no emissions. Zero.”
Sen. Durbin said that eco-friendly technology and legislation are becoming increasingly prevalent.
“There’s an appetite out there to offer people sound technology, it gets the job done for them as a family, and helps us overall in the environment,” said Durbin.
He said that the trail the MTD is blazing in eco-friendly transportation is not only setting a great precedent for the nation but for our future generation.
“The fact that this is happening on the campus of University of Illinois, is a message these students will take home and it’s a good one,” said Durbin.