Aberdeen hits hydrogen high as fleet reaches 100,000 miles

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Michelle Thomson celebrates the achievement with one of the hydrogen-powered StreetDecks. FIRST

The fleet of 15 hydrogen-powered Wrightbus double-deckers operated by First Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council has completed its first 100,000 miles of operation since its launch in January, saving an estimated 170,000kg of CO2 from being released in the process – the equivalent of taking 42 cars off the road for a year, and marking a significant step forward in improving the city’s air quality for its residents, the operator said.

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 fleet is used mainly on route 19, for which a number of the buses are route branded. Michelle Thomson, a hydrogen bus driver at First Aberdeen, said of the new fleet: “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.”

Ian Gillott, Wrightbus Group Director, added: “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 has a support team of specialists in Aberdeen as well as an escalation team and a technical back-up team on 24-hour call.

The project is being funded with £2.5 million from Aberdeen City Council, £3 million from the Scottish Government, and £2.3 million from European Union (FCH JU).