Ann Arbor’s TheRide aims to reduce carbon footprint with new program

TheRide demonstrates its new autonomous wheelchair technology at University of Michigan's Mcity on March 26, 2019. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A new zero-emissions initiative will help the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) reach its goals of reducing its carbon footprint in the years ahead.

“Our recommendation for a hydrogen fuel-cell bus pilot project is not just about embracing cleaner technology; it’s about paving the way for a sustainable future. We are eager for the public to learn about the details of this recommendation and provide their valuable feedback. Together, we can make a difference,” said TheRide CEO Matt Carpenter in a release.

The initiative would kick off with a pilot program over four to five years that would include utilizing two hydrogen fuel cell buses and related equipment, using an outdoor fueling station, workforce training and 12 months of operation in all seasons.

Officials said the pilot program would cost between $5.5 - $7.5 million, with the entire zero-emissions initiative estimated to cost between $6.9 - $10.8 million; however, if successful, it could help save around 7,000 tons of carbon emissions per year.

A recommendation for the pilot project will be given to TheRide’s board of directors soon so that it can be discussed during the rest of 2023 and decided upon by January 2024. This timeline will give the transportation agency time to apply for grants to help ease the financial costs of the zero-emissions initiative.

TheRide would front between $1.1 - $1.5 million of the pilot program costs from its own capital reserve. Federal funding, and possible monies from the Michigan Department of Transportation, would cover the rest of the costs, officials said.

Staff will focus on funding after the recommendation is approved, and the initiative’s success relies on grant funding, says a notice from TheRide.

Community members can comment on the zero-emissions initiative and pilot program during the October and November Board of Directors meetings.

Learn about the program at

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.