The world’s first fleet of groundbreaking hydrogen double decker buses, built by UK bus manufacturer Wrightbus in its Ballymena factory, has hit its first major milestone, completing 100,000 miles of operation.
In service in Aberdeen since January, the fleet has already saved 170,000kg of CO2 emissions.
Since launching into customer service in January, the fleet of 15 First Aberdeen buses, manufactured in the UK by Wrightbus, has already saved a whopping 170,000kg of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking 42 cars off the road for a year – marking a significant step forward in improving the city’s air quality for its residents.
Michelle Thomson, hydrogen bus driver at First Aberdeen (pictured) says: “Drivers and the public absolutely love the new hydrogen buses – sailing smoothly and silently through the city’s streets is an absolute joy. We get people hopping on just for a ride, to enjoy the experience.
“It’s been especially lovely during lockdown, too, as the buses are so quiet that socially distancing passengers wearing masks can still have a natter from either end of the bus. As drivers, it makes us much more in tune with what’s going on on board, so we’re able to deliver the best in customer service.
“In fact, they’re so quiet that we’re getting more customers nodding off on board – I imagine this will start to happen more as hospitality opens up and people take the opportunity to make their way back from the pub!
“It’s lovely driving through countryside routes as well, knowing that we’re not disturbing the peace – we can glide through, hardly noticed. But most of all it’s great knowing that we’re doing our bit to help protect the planet – that’s really important to us all.”
The exhausts of this world-first zero-emission fleet emit nothing more than water vapour and the hydrogen fuel is made from just electricity from wind power and water. Aberdeen makes its own hydrogen to power the buses, making it an even greener energy source for the local community.
Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader, Councillor Douglas Lumsden, said: “Transforming the city’s carbon footprint on a large scale is no easy feat, but we’re committed to making continuous progress and are proud to be leading the way in the transport industry with First Aberdeen to bring our joint vision of low emission public transport to life.”
The existing 15 hydrogen buses are now in service across the city with the majority of them predominantly operating on the Service 19 route in Aberdeen.
Ian Gillott, Wrightbus Group Director, said: “To reach 100,000 miles is a significant milestone. It is a credit to Aberdeen City Council and to First Bus that they have embraced this new technology so readily, putting Aberdeen firmly and historically on the zero emissions map.”
To support the fleet’s deployment, Wrightbus installed a support team of hydrogen specialists on the ground in Aberdeen as well as an escalation team and a technical back-up team on 24-hour call.
The hydrogen buses will continue to make a valuable difference to the environment as well as Aberdonians’ cardiovascular and respiratory health as each one is expected to save 80 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – the equivalent of removing 38 petrol or 40 diesel cars from the road.
The project is being funded with £2.5million from Aberdeen City Council, £3million from the Scottish Government, and £2.3million from European Union (FCH JU).
This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 735582. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe Industry and Hydrogen Europe Research.
About the FCH JU
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is a unique public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies, realising their potential as an instrument in achieving a carbon-lean energy system. The three members of the FCH JU are the European Commission, fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by Hydrogen Europe and the research community represented by the research grouping Hydrogen Europe Research.
The JIVE (Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe) project seeks to deploy 139 new zero-emission fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five countries. JIVE has received funding from the FCH JU (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) under grant agreement No 735582. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe Industry and Hydrogen Europe Research. This is the first out of two projects: The JIVE2 project started in January 2018. Combined, the JIVE projects will deploy nearly 300 fuel cell buses in 15 cities across Europe by the early 2020s. This is the most ambitious pan-European initiative to-date in commercialising hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.
About First Aberdeen
First Aberdeen is the largest bus operator in the city. More than 175 buses transport around 50,000 people every day across Aberdeen. The company operates from its King Street bus depot and employs more than 500 staff. For more information, visit: http://www.firstgroup.com/aberdeen
About First Bus
First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators.
Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks. We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience.
We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland. First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.
Wrightbus, based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, builds the world’s lightest bus chassis and has developed the world’s first double-decker hydrogen bus.
Owned by Jo Bamford, who bought the business in 2019, Wrightbus is at the vanguard of the zero-emission bus movement.
FIND OUT MORE: Wrightbus is exhibiting at the ITT Hub 2021 event on June 30-July 1, at Farnborough International, just off the M25, west of London. Register for your free place now! www.itthub.co.uk