Hydrogen buses enter service in Dublin, battery bus order to follow

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Ireland’s NTA has placed its first hydrogen buses into service, and intends to place an order for its first 120 battery-electric buses within the next month

Ireland’s National Transport Authority (NTA) and national operator Bus Éireann have unveiled three new hydrogen fuel cell double-deck buses for use on commuter services in the Greater Dublin area.

The three Wrightbus Streetdeck H2 FCEVs were purchased by the NTA and will go into service on Bus Éireann’s route 105X, which runs between Dublin and Ratoath, County Meath. The buses will be subject to in-service evaluation as part of an alternative fuels technology pilot being undertaken by the NTA in collaboration with Bus Éireann.

The new buses represent an investment by the state of approximately €2.4m. Each bus can accommodate up to 79 passengers within its overall length of 11.5 metres. Safety and accessibility was a priority, the NTA said, and the buses feature priority seats upholstered in distinctive, high contrast moquette, a large permanent wheelchair space and separate dedicated buggy space, and a powered wheelchair ramp at the front door. An additional passenger information display is fitted within the wheelchair space, whilst external destination screens use high definition displays, and the buses are highly visible thanks to their yellow, green and white Transport For Ireland livery.

Hydrogen for the buses will initially be supplied by BOC Gases Ireland, with refuelling being carried out at its Bluebell facility on the Naas Road in Dublin. Maintenance will initially be undertaken by Municipal and Utilities Truck Equipment Company (MUTEC), on behalf of manufacturer Bamford Bus Company, at its facility on the Longmile Road in Dublin.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD said: “Reducing carbon emissions from transport is critical to reaching our climate goals and will also improve air quality for all. Other technologies such as battery-electric, are very well suited to bus services in urban areas, but on longer commuter and inter-urban routes, hydrogen fuel cell technology is an innovative zero tailpipe emission alternative to diesel. I’m especially pleased that the Wrightbus Streetdeck, which is the first such bus in the world, is assembled in Northern Ireland and that Bus Éireann is piloting these buses on its commuter route between Dublin to Ratoath.”

Anne Graham, NTA Chief Executive Officer added: “As these new hydrogen buses go into operation with Bus Éireann, we are setting out on a journey towards a zero-emission public transport fleet. Procuring these three buses and putting them into service gives us an opportunity to pilot hydrogen fuel cell technology in daily public transport operations in Ireland and to assess the part it can play in the long term transition to a zero-emission bus fleet. Thanks to Luas and DART, already almost a quarter of all public transport journeys on the Transport For Ireland network are on zero-emission vehicles, and the NTA is committed to an accelerated transition to a more sustainable bus fleet.

“These buses are just one part of the overall approach, and hydrogen is just one of the technologies that we are looking to in the drive to make public transport more sustainable. Alongside these buses, we are also about to order 45 single-deck battery-electric buses for use in urban areas, with another 150 or so to come. In the next month or so, we will be ordering the first 120 battery-electric double-deck buses for use in the large cities, with another 680 to follow in the coming years. The NTA and the public transport operators are stepping up to the climate challenge.”

Stephen Kent, Chief Executive Officer at Bus Éireann, said: “Bus Éireann is committed to the transition to a zero-emission fleet and to our sustainability targets which include growing passenger journeys and offering a compelling alternative to private car travel. Given the very varied routes, locations and terrains Bus Éireann serves across 82 million kilometres a year, it has become evident that no single technology is the answer. We are especially excited about the range offered by zero tailpipe emission hydrogen vehicles, and also the passenger benefits of silent, smooth travel that delivers a notably different and much improved bus journey experience. Combined with the environmental benefits, I am confident that this improved experience will help to convert more people to bus travel.

“While the focus is often on the vehicle, the deployment of each new technology requires huge back-of-house changes for our skilled engineers and craftworkers, at our 17 depots and in our supply chain. We are grateful for the support and investment of Minister Ryan, the Department of Transport, the National Transport Authority and collaboration with all partners as we begin to implement fundamental changes in our operations. We are delighted to get Ireland’s first hydrogen-fuelled buses on the road and into public service next week.”

The Wrightbus Streetdeck FCEVs will serve the Greater Dublin area. BUS ÉIREANN