While we can debate the relative value of the hydrogen fuel call passenger car versus the endless onslaught of better and better plug-in vehicles, but in the public and commercial transportation game - fuel cell technology makes a lot of sense, saving a lot of emissions from needlessly entering the environment.

This week Ohio's first hydrogen bus hit the roads, serving riders on Ohio State's campus for the next ~12 months, as the university will collect data on the program.  A second bus is also to be delivered shortly to Penn State University's Altoona Bus Testing and Research Center.

Over the course of the next 24 months, 10 buses in total will be deployed by SARTA (Stark Area Regional Transit Authority).  Once delivered, it will be the 3rd largest operation fleet of fuel cell buses in the country, and largest outside California.

The cost of using a new technology, and being emission free, isn't cheap.  The first two buses cost about ~$2 million dollars a piece (about $1.6 million/each more than a comparable traditional bus) and is funded by a bevvy of government programs.

Besides the environmental benefits, the buses are about twice as efficient (~9 MPG) than their internal combustion brothers...meaning the monetary breakeven point would arrive just after travelling a scant ~3 million miles. But pricing is sure to come down with future adoption.

"When large-screen TVs first came out, they were very expensive. Now you can go to Walmart and get one out of a vending machine for a quarter (you should see how large the vending machines are though)," SARTA Executive Director and CEO Kirt Conrad said. "We're seeing the same thing with this technology."

And as is required by law, all media and politicians must consume the "exhaust" water from the buses during the launch ceremony - see above video evidence.

Check out this decent PDF spec sheet on SARTA hydrogen bus for more information.

Cleveland.com, Hat tip to sven!