(TNS) -- Members of Ohio's Stark Area Regional Transit Authority and other agencies drank water dripping from the back of a bus today at the Statehouse.
The demonstration was part of an event launching a new hydrogen fuel cell bus that will begin taking passengers in Stark County next year. Until then, the bus is being tested at Ohio State University's Campus for the Center of Automotive Research.
"I truly believe that bringing this bus to Columbus for Ohio State demonstrates the university's commitment to not only alternative fuels, but to zero-emissions vehicles," said Maryn Weimer, associate director of the Center for Automotive Research.
The bus combines hydrogen and oxygen atoms, releasing electrons that can be used as electricity to power the bus. The only byproduct is water, which is safe to drink, said Kirt Conrad, executive director of the region's public transit system.
The group has nine more vehicles on the way, which will make it the second-largest fleet of these type of buses, after one in California. The organization ordered the first two buses more than two years ago, which was followed by an $8.9 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration for five more. Last week, the administration issued another $4 million for three more buses.
A second bus is currently undergoing testing in Pennsylvania until November.
Although the cost to the environment will be practically net-zero, the new technology isn't cheap. Each unit costs about $2 million. The hydrogen fuel will cost about $5 per kilogram, which is essentially equivalent to the energy produced by one gallon of gas. But Conrad also said the units are much more efficient, receiving about double the miles per gallon of fuel. The buses will run about 250 miles a day.
He added that the buses will decrease in price as the technology becomes more available.
Conrad said these types of vehicles are "the future of all transportation." Additionally, he said the transition will help encourage energy-conscious millennials to stay in the state.
"If we can't get them the amenities they want here, they're going to go somewhere else, which is not what we want for our state," he said.
As for the water he drank from the back of the bus, he said it "tasted like water."
©2016 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.