Sitting on London transport’s new hydrogen bus, the thing I really notice is the sound. There isn’t any! Well hardly any.

But noise pollution is not the only thing this new bus addresses of course, more importantly is the improvement to air quality.

The bus is a zero-polluting vehicle which emits nothing but water. It will form a fleet of 8 buses, which will all be operative by late 2011 and create the first zero-emission bus route in the UK.

The state of the art buses use hydrogen fuel cell technology and will help in the London mayor’s target to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2025.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “These buses are a marvel of hydrogen technology, emitting only water rather than belching out harmful pollutants.

“They will run through the most polluted part of the city, through two air pollution hotspots, helping to improve London’s air quality.

“This is just another way that our city is harnessing pioneering low emission public transport to improve quality of life, whether the New Bus for London, electric vehicles or my public bike hire scheme.”

The hydrogen buses will join the 100 hybrid buses already in use in London, the largest hybrid fleet in Europe.

The bus will go into service on route RV1 from next Saturday (December 18) and tomorrow it starts a week long test run before the real thing.

The project is funded by TfL’s budget, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the major’s office and the European Union via the Clean Hydrogen in Cities (CHIC) project.

Deputy mayor for policing and chair of the London Hydrogen Partnership, Kit Malthouse, said that it was an exciting day for him personally and the buses were the stuff of his childhood fantasies: “science made real”.

He said he looked forward to a cleaner quieter capital where residents can breathe fresh air.

He said: “The arrival of a flagship fleet of hydrogen powered buses places London at the forefront of this revolutionary fuel cell technology.

“We are thinking big and have ambitious plans to promote the use of hydrogen on the ground, propelling vehicles and powering buildings.”

The pioneering technology developed by ISE, Wrightbus and Ballard and will run from a specially designed maintenance facility. This will include the UK’s largest permanent hydrogen refuelling station and will be maintained by Air Products.

Alison Brown

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