Mar. 24th, 2010

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A fleet of new London buses hailed as the ultimate green vehicles are being shipped thousands of miles to get here — the equivalent of three-quarters of the way around the globe. The hydrogen-powered buses, part of a £15 million project, have been much hyped by Transport for London because they are designed to produce no pollution or carbon dioxide.

But the Standard has discovered that the five buses will be delivered to the capital this year after a boat trip of at least 17,240 miles.

The vehicles themselves will have been built only 350 miles away from London in Ballymena, Northern
Ireland, but will then be shipped at least 8,620 miles to San Diego in California for engines to be installed.

Following this the buses, which will be used on the Covent Garden to Tower Gateway route, will make the long journey back to Britain to be finished before they are delivered to TfL in November.

Because a single container ship emits more pollution than 2,000 diesel trucks and uses 30 times more fuel per mile than a car, critics have questioned just how eco-friendly the project really is.

However, sending the buses by boat rather than as air freight has reduced the carbon footprint of the trip.

Richard Bourn, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “To ship these buses such a long way seems absurd. “We would also question the use of hydrogen buses in the first place, as producing the hydrogen for them is not efficient.”

Liberal Democrat leader at City Hall, Mike Tuffrey, said: “Their cost and their surprisingly large carbon footprint they will generate before arriving in London raises some basic questions as to whether they are a good deal.

“The Mayor has some serious questions to answer as to whether £5 million could be better spent on low-tech measures now that would improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollution from London's existing buses.

“Advances in new technology are often expensive, especially in the early days of becoming established, but I am simply staggered by reports showing how expensive these buses are turning out to be.”

The buses are being delivered by ISE, a US firm. TfL signed a contract with it in 2007, instigated by former mayor Ken Livingstone, but the project has been continued by Boris Johnson despite major budget cuts at TfL.

Transport bosses say water is all the hydrogen-fuelled bus will release into the air, and Mr Johnson has justified the buses as important because they will help to reduce CO2 emissions from transport and tackle climate change in London.

A TfL spokesman said: “Hydrogen buses are cutting edge technology and there are currently only a very limited number of specialist suppliers available.

“ISE were selected as our preferred supplier, with Wrightbus appointed as the bodywork supplier.

“While there is an increased carbon footprint for the initial buses, our long term programme will ensure the market for hydrogen vehicles is stimulated and that footprint will reduce considerably.”

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Tuesday 23rd March was a day out on an Explorer! Taking Richmond's market day Service 23 from Royston to Hitchin, driver was excited as it was the 2nd ticket he'd sold that week! From there, Stagecoach Bedford Service M2 to Bedford, then the same back to Hitchin, Arriva 97 to Letchworth, and Centrebus 91 to Royston. See all the pictures here.

A few notables - bought several items in Hitchin Market, mostly card and a largeish craft items store box (flat packed!) Beford Borough Council's timetable book has been reissued from Februrary in a slightly revisevised style - new front, and upright A5 pages. Around the same time, Central Beds reissued their Biggleswade guide in current style. Speaking of books, there is a new bookstore in Letchworth, called Buy The Book - wasn't that the bookstore in Ellen's sitcom?

Today, Wednesday 24th March was at home, working. One interesting site, Stagecoach Cambridge brought down some timetables in their publicity van...! In the past they've stuck them in the post.

Tomorrow, who knows? Have plans, but see how I feel.


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September 2010


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