Poor air quality was highlighted yesterday (30 November) by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as a key part of the rationale for moving away from diesel buses to low emission vehicles, such as hydrogen powered.
The Mayor was speaking after he had formally unveiled the world’s first hydrogen powered double decker bus outside City Hall. The vehicle will now be trialled in London.
Speaking at an international Zero Emission Bus Conference held in the City Hall building, Mr Khan spoke first of his support for buses as part of a public transport network. He said: “Double decker buses are a form of transport I have always enjoyed. I am a fan and use a double decker as part of my journey every day.”
He went on to note that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities before citing how “poor air quality is responsible for 10,000 Londoners dying every year. In London the low emission bus is a vital component of our sustainable transport strategy.”
The Mayor then emphasised how his policies on transport and buses were sending messages to the private sector. He said that with targets for hybrid, electric and hydrogen- powered buses set by Transport for London, this means that “we can send a clear message to manufacturers that there is no future for dirty diesel buses in our city”.
And, Mr Khan added: “This marks the beginning of an important journey… the onus is now on private companies to make these buses available at affordable prices. We are in the world’s greatest city, but unfortunately the air is a killer, the air makes you sick, the air is illegal.”
The Mayor confirmed that no more pure diesel double-deck buses will be added to the capital’s fleet from 2018 and that all new single-decks for central London will be zero-emission.
And, as part of his commitment to cleaning the capital’s air, the Mayor wants all London buses to meet the Ultra-Low Emission Zone standard during 2020.
The new hydrogen double-decker will be trialled on London’s roads in 2017 and is made by UK bus manufacturer Wrightbus of Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland. London has committed to procuring about 300 zero emission buses by 2020, with 51 battery electric buses recently going into service on the 507/521 route. This took the number of completely electric bus routes to three, with 79 zero emission buses in total in the fleet.
Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “We’re determined to make our public transport system one of the cleanest in the world and phasing out diesel buses lies at the heart of this. Zero emission buses are the future, and my staff are working hard with manufacturers and bus companies to make them a reality in the Capital as quickly as possible.”
Eleven other major cities – including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Cape Town – have already agreed to begin moves to phase out their procurement of pure diesel buses by the end of 2020. In addition, Paris, Madrid and Mexico City have committed to removing diesel buses from their cities by 2025.
The zero-emission vehicle debuts a hydrogen fuel cell driveline from Wrightbus which, the company says, will rapidly become available to power both single deck and double deck buses as it becomes fully production-ready next year.
The new technology from the company provides “a zero-emission drive system which encompasses a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery pack to power the vehicle. The combination of these two technologies makes the continuous daily operation of the public transport vehicle.
Offering a reliable system with no emissions, all Wrightbus hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will feature an electric drive axle packaged to allow a full flat floor throughout the bus, a zero-emission heating/cooling system, the ability for overnight charging if the operator desires, and remote diagnostics. Key to the success of this concept are the lightweight hydrogen storage tanks, and the automatic battery management system which continuously monitors and balances the stored power while the vehicle is in service.”