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Rajesh Paulose, a hydrogen program manager with Chevron, explains how compressors are used in the process of making hydrogen from natural gas at AC Transit's hydrogen bus facilities at its Oakland bus barn.
For a bus company, it's a lofty vision:

"Imagine a world without smog. Imagine clean air and clear blue skies. Imagine your neighborhood without the noise of internal combustion engines.

"Then take away global warming. Then take away dependence on foreign oil."

That's AC Transit's vision for its cutting-edge $21 million pilot program to test hydrogen fuel cell and electric hybrid technology in three of its working buses and five staff cars.

"The laptop computer: Think of where this technology has gone," says the transit agency's marketing and communications director, Jamie Levin, as he leads a breathless tour of the hulking 40-foot buses and the Oakland facilities built to keep them fueled and maintained. "The technology will get smaller, it will get lighter, it will get cheaper."

In a nation desperate not to become an international hostage to fossil fuel, the pitch was enough to capture the imagination of President George Bush.

"Investing in new technologies like hydrogen will enable this economy to be strong, people to be able to afford fuel, this country's national security not dependent on parts of the world that are unstable," Bush said during an April visit to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, where he got to hear Levin's pitch about the threshhold of a new transportation age while standing on the doorstep of an AC Transit fuel-cell bus.

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