This month, I paid a visit to the Metrobus Crawley depot for the launch of a fleet of Wrightbus GB Kite Hydroliners for the Fastway service (see page 28).
A hydrogen fleet is a zero-emission investment you might expect for a service with a relatively long length, which would make recharging an electric bus difficult. Fastway routes are not particularly long, though.
However, the service is extremely demanding, running every day of the year and almost every hour of each of those days. This puts extraordinary demand on the vehicles, and means there is never a long enough break to charge a battery. Even a fast charge on an electric bus takes at least two hours. Not only that, but the long hours mean up to 370 miles of travel per day. There’s not an electric bus on the market with that range, even in laboratory conditions.
With the fleet needing a renewal, Go-Ahead setting a zero-emission target for 2035 and electric buses not capable of like-for-like replacement of the diesels on the service, Metrobus turned to hydrogen. The dramatically faster refuelling and substantially longer range makes them ideal for the routes.