New Flyer Industries F40LF
---This page is about the hydrogen fuel cell version of New Flyer Industries' Standard Low Floor design unofficially known as the H40LF. For the diesel-electric version originally designated as the H40LF, see New Flyer Industries DE40LF.
|New Flyer F40LF|
|Years of manufacture||1994, 1996/1997, 2000|
|Power/Fuel||Ballard Hydrogen Fuel Cell|
The Four Phases of Ballard
Within the testing of Hydrogen Fuel Cell buses, the F40LF was the third iteration from Ballard Power Systems. Phase 1 started in 1993 with a shuttle bus converted by Ballard Power Systems. Phase 2 began in 1995, with the construction of a proof-of-concept vehicle based upon the New Flyer Industries D40LF. This vehicle was tested with BC Transit's Vancouver and Victoria systems. Phase 3 was home to the F40LF. Specifics of this phase are covered below. The last phase, Phase 4, was meant to be the final version of the F40LF, fitted with a newer version of the Xcellsis Fuel Cell "engine", which resulted in a lighter vehicle and more efficient use of fuel. Specifics of this phase are covered below.
Phase 2, The Proof-Of-Concept
Phase 2 began in 1995, when Ballard Power Systems retrofitted a New Flyer Industries D40LF with their Hydrogen Fuel Cell "Engine" and toured it around Vancouver, BC, and Victoria, BC.
Photos courtesy of CPTDB User "Kevin L"
The "Phase 3" program
The F40LF was part of a four-year-long "Phase 3" program conducted in two major urban transportation markets, Chicago Transit Authority and BC Transit / CMBC, by New Flyer Industries, Ballard Power Systems, and Xcellsis (A joint venture between DaimlerChrysler, The Ford Motor Company, and Ballard Power Systems). "Phase 3" began in June, 1996 with the construction of six prototype buses in cooperation with both transit authorities. A pre-delivery test phase first started in July, 1997 at CTA, and BC Transit/CMBC in January, 1998. Following the pre-delivery testing, a non-revenue test phase began in both cities in 1998, where employees were trained on how to drive and maintain the vehicles. The final part of the test was a two-year public service implementation with three buses in each city. Chicago was the first to begin the implementation, with the first runs starting March, 1998. Vancouver began nearly a year later, with the first runs starting in January, 1999.
A major component of the "Phase 3" test program was a head-to-head comparison against existing transit options. Thus, the performance of the Phase 3 bus was measured against diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG), and from every aspect of interest to a major transit authority. These included (among other criteria) acceleration, initial cost, operating costs, reliability, noise levels, fueling infrastructure and passenger capacity. In acceleration testing, the F40LF was about equal with Diesel and CNG buses when accelerated to 20 mph (34 km/h), but fell behind the competitors when accelerated to 30 mph (48 km/h) and 40 mph (64 km/h). This was due to the increased weight of the F40LF. Loaded to its maximum of 40 passengers (GVW limited), the F40LFs were approximately equal in weight to a CNG bus loaded with 70 passengers. Cost-wise, these buses were extremely expensive, both to purchase and to maintain. At a cost of almost $1.4 Million USD ($1.73 Million CAD), agencies could purchase 5 Diesel buses for the same amount of money. Reliability for the F40LF could be marked as poor to mediocre, with almost 600 instances between the 2 agencies where mechanics were called out to fix a problem with any one of the 1500 parts of the Fuel Cell System. Ballard Power Systems attributes the issues to the buses being "early prototypes, consisting mostly of prototype components ". As testing continued and parts continued to fail, Ballard would replace parts with newer, "next generation prototype" parts, meaning that no two F40LFs would have identical parts during the testing Phase, resulting in more complicated issues for the mechanics.
From the public standpoint, these buses were comfortable, quiet, and many had trouble believing the exhaust emission from the F40LFs was pure, unadulterated water vapor. In September, 1995, to prove this was true, Richard M. Daley, the then Mayor of Chicago, toasted to what he predicted would be the future of clean-fuel buses when he drank a glass of lukewarm water that had previously been sitting under the tailpipe of CTA 5900 on LaSalle Street in front of spectators and news reporters.
Phase 3 ended on June 30, 2000, when Vancouver officially ended their testing of the F40LFs. As for the deposition of the F40LFs, 2 of Vancouver's, P7244 and P7246, were converted to diesel-electric hybrid in around 2004 by Stewart and Stevenson, replacing the Ballard Power Systems Hydrogen Fuel Cell and associated equipment with a diesel engine and parallel hybrid system for participation in Translink's "Testing the Power of Tomorrow ". These units were in revenue service until mid-2010, when they were moved to storage and later scrapped in December of 2012. As for CTA's F40LFs, they were placed in storage at the 77th Street Garage, where as of October 2015, they still remain.
Phase 4, the Final Phase
Phase 4 began in August of 2000, with the completion of the Ballard/Xcellsis ZEBus which entered service with SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, California. This final version of the F40LF was fitted with the new Xcellsis Phase 4 Fuel Cell Engine, which resulted in a lighter, more efficient vehicle, with a startup time of only 3 seconds compared to the 45 seconds of the Phase 3 engine. When testing ended in September, 2001, the bus had accumulated almost 14,900 miles (24,000 km) and a total of 865 hours of run-time when it was returned to Ballard/Xcellsis in late September. The unit later returned to SunLine for demonstration purposes in September, 2002. The deposition of the bus is currently unknown, though it is thought to still be stored at SunLine's Garage in Thousand Palms, California, as it can be seen in satellite photographs of the garage with all ZEBus decals removed.
Photo courtesy of Flickr User "SoCalMetro".
Seven prototype models and one proof-of-concept model were produced by New Flyer in conjunction with Ballard Power Systems:
|Fleet Number||Thumbnail||Build Date||Operator||VIN||Notes|
|N/A||1993||BC Transit / Vancouver Regional Transit System||RP015476||
|P7244||December 1996||BC Transit / CMBC||2FYF2LJ15TU016949||
|P7245||December 1996||BC Transit / CMBC||2FYF2LJ15TU016950||
|P7246||December 1996||BC Transit / CMBC||2FYF2LJ15TU016951||
|5900||1996||Chicago Transit Authority||2FYF2LJ15TU016952||
|5901||1996||Chicago Transit Authority||2FYF2LJ15TU016953||
|5902||1996||Chicago Transit Authority||2FYF2LJ15TU016954||
|N/A||SunLine Transit Agency||N/A||
- Ballard Power Systems - Vancouver, BC
- Coast Mountain Bus Company - Metro Vancouver, BC
|New Flyer Industries|