The Board of Transport for London (TfL) approved a production order for up to 600 of New Bus for London vehicles over the next four years. (Earlier post.) This will create the largest fleet of hybrid buses in Europe, according to TfL.
The 600 buses represent a 200% increase in the current hybrid bus fleet which is set to grow by a further 180 vehicles already on order. When the final batch of new bus for London vehicles is delivered in 2016, more than 1,000 hybrid buses will be in service on the streets of London.
The first batch of 30 buses, enough to convert a full route, will enter passenger service in April next year.
The decision takes forward Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s election pledge to introduce 600 of the new Routemaster-inspired vehicles that resurrect the iconic hop-on hop-off rear platform by 2016.
Tfl first trialed hybrid technology in 2006. Hybrid buses typically deliver around a 30% fuel efficiency saving and around 20% reductions in NOx emissions. However, in testing the new bus emitted less than half the CO2 and NOx of a current diesel bus. The buses also deliver better than twice the fuel economy of a standard diesel bus.
The introduction of the 600 buses will reduce CO2 emissions in London by around 20,600 tonnes a year.
The buses are manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland; Wrightbus won a contract in 2009 to build eight prototypes with an option to produce the first 1,000 vehicles.
TfL anticipates that the first central London bus route, requiring approximately 30 vehicles, will be converted by the end of April next year. Another route could be converted by next August. In total, around 93 new buses will be delivered to TfL in 2013. Approximately 200 vehicles will be delivered in 2014, 250 in 2015 with the remainder in 2016.
In a departure from the current bus ownership model, TfL has also taken the decision to purchase the buses directly from the manufacturer. This will secure a better unit price by purchasing the new buses in larger numbers rather than a bus operator ordering in smaller batches on a per route basis. The buses will then be allocated to the bus operators, reducing contract costs as the operator will simply quote for staffing, fuel and maintenance costs.
TfL says that the new ownership model will enable it to move buses more easily between operators when route contracts change and significantly extend the operational life of the vehicle. After an initial purchase outlay this ownership model is expected to deliver savings of tens of millions of pounds over the life of the buses. The TfL Business Plan is due to be revised later this year and the purchase of the 600 vehicles will be delivered within TfL’s current funding settlement.
The operational life of the New Bus for London is 14 years in service in London.