A fleet of 40 hydrogen buses are set to provide emissions-free transport on the busiest bus route in Liverpool city region under plans unveiled by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. Tony McDonough reports
All the buses on Liverpool city region’s busiest route could be powered by hydrogen under plans announced by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.
In March, Liverpool City Combined Authority (CA) approved £12.5m from its Transforming Cities Fund to purchase 20 double-decker hydrogen-powered buses. These would operate on the 10A route between Liverpool city centre and St Helens.
Now it has been revealed that a bid for extra funding from the Government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area scheme (ZEBRA) has been discussed and approved by the CA, which comprises leaders from Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton.
If successful, it could see the hydrogen bus fleet increased to 40 vehicles – enough to fully service the route. It would mean the £12.5m committed through the TCF already could be spread over the cost of more vehicles, hugely increasing the size of the new fleet.
The roll-out of zero-emission hydrogen buses is a key part of Mr Rotheram’s plans to deliver an integrated London-style transport system. The proposed funding would cover up to 75% of the cost difference between the highly efficient hydrogen vehicles and a standard bus.
Hydrogen fuel cells, a safe and reliable technology, will power the new bus fleet. Procurement for the vehicles has already started and the they are due to enter service on the route, which run through Kensington and Old Swan in Liverpool, in 2022. It is currently operated by both Arriva and Stagecoach.
Broader plans for the project also include the building of hydrogen refuelling facilities, which will be the first of their kind in the North West. Construction of the refuelling facilities is planned to begin later in the year.
With the Metro Mayor having set a target for the Liverpool city region to become net zero carbon by 2040, hydrogen buses will join the existing fleet in the city region which is already more than 70% low emissions. That’s been achieved through the use of cleaner engines, hybrid and electric power and biomethane gas.
Mr Rotheram said: “My plans to deliver a London-style transport system that is quick, cheap and reliable, and a ‘green industrial revolution’ that tackles the climate crisis while doubling the number of green jobs in the region were overwhelmingly endorsed by people in every part of our area.
“82% of all public transport journeys in our region are taken by bus and this new fleet will give people a clean, green and comfortable way to get about. I’m already working to double the size of the fleet so more people can enjoy these buses and the improved air quality we’ll get as a result.”