All aboard for London’s new clean-air buses

Hydrogen double decker bus prototype. Photo courtesy of TfL.

Transport for London (TfL) has ordered 20 of the world’s newest environmentally-friendly buses as part of its drive to make London’s transport zero-emission. The news follows hot-on-the-heels of the introduction of the world’s first ultra low emission zone last month.          

TfL is investing £12m in the new buses and the fuelling infrastructure. Wrightbus in Northern Ireland will manufacture the buses, creating new jobs in the region, and more than £5m of funding is being provided by European bodies and £1m from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles.

To encourage the take-up of the technology in other cities in the UK and Europe, TfL is also leading procurement within the Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE) project. JIVE aims to bring down the cost of the vehicles by buying in bulk with other authorities, helping put the price per bus on a par with the other cleanest fuels.

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said: “We all have a role to play in cleaning up London’s toxic air and I’ve always said that TfL should lead from the front. Following the launch of the world-first ultra low emission zone last month, I’m delighted that TfL has today signed a contract to bring 20 state-of-the-art, zero-emission hydrogen buses to London’s streets. We are investing a record £85m in cleaning up our bus fleet, and I am proud that London now has the largest zero-emission bus fleet in Europe.”

Greening transport in the capital will require using a range of clean power sources. TfL say the hydrogen buses can store more energy on board than equivalent buses, meaning they can be deployed on longer routes. They only need to be refuelled once a day for five minutes, making them much quicker to power up when compared with conventional battery-electric buses.

The double decker hydrogen buses will expand TfL’s growing number of zero-emission buses. There are currently a total of 165 zero-emission buses, with a further 68 electric double deckers on the roads by the summer. 

Claire Mann, TfL’s director of bus operations, said: “London has the cleanest bus fleet in Europe, but we know we need to go further and faster to tackle the public health emergency caused by dirty air. Innovating and using hydrogen means we have flexibility in matching the right fuel with the operational requirements of the network. We are also pleased to be leading an initiative that brings down the cost of buying the greenest buses across the continent and within our own country, as we know pollution doesn’t respect national or local boundaries.”

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