The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority will get another $1.75 million in federal grant funding to buy zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses, according to the office of U.S. Sen. S?herrod Brown.

CANTON  The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority has gotten a $1.75 million federal grant to buy two more zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses.

Kirt Conrad, SARTA's executive director, said his agency submitted an application in May for a grant from the Federal Transit Administration's Low Or No Emission Vehicle Program, which disburses up to $55 million a year to local governments to buy or lease zero-emission and low-emission transit buses.

Conrad, who heard from Sen. Sherrod Brown's office Tuesday that SARTA had gotten the grant, thanked Brown, D-Cleveland, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati and Stark County's congressmen for submitting letters of support to the federal agency.

SARTA has used other grants in recent years to acquired seven hydrogen-fuel cell buses, which do not emit pollutants into the air, said Conrad.

One that was transferred by the University of Alabama is undergoing a title transfer. Four are now being used to serve bus routes in Stark County, one is undergoing durability testing at Penn State University and one is on loan to Ohio State University. They will be returned by next year. Four more, also funded by federal grants, are on order. One will be delivered in October. Three more will be in operation by next spring. SARTA's hydrogen pumping station at its Canton headquarters started operating last year.

Conrad said with the most recent grant, SARTA's fleet of 40-feet hydrogen fuel-cell buses will by the fall of 2018 rise to 13. Conrad said SARTA has the third largest fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell buses behind SunlLine Transit Agency in Palm Springs, Calif., and the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District in Oakland, Calif.

The first hydrogen fuel-cell buses cost about $2.5 million each but due in part to greater scale of mass production, the cost has dropped to $1.4 million, Conrad said.

Conrad has sought to promote the use of hydrogen fuel-cell technology as a way to cut down on air pollution and to foster development of a hydrogen fuel cell industry in Northeast Ohio.

Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or robert.wang@cantonrep.com. Twitter; @rwangREP