News over the weekend featured the latest all electric doubledeck buses being launched in London. WrightBus of Northern Ireland following up on the successful and unique 'Borismaster' double deck design for London with several hundred examples traversing the capital's streets - has just delivered its first all electric double deck design.
London's air quality problems are being accentuated by traffic emissions 24/7 to the extent that there is a credible threat to health in the city's central districts. So much so that Transport for London (tfl) and attendant local government (Mayor of London) are pursuing faster introduction of all electric buses at the same time as penalising diesel and higher emission vehicles.
Market Street, Blackpool - with BTS vehicles dominating traffic on the trunk 11 and 14 services respectively covering south and north Fylde coastal communities. All electric hydrogen powered replacements for these already impressive upgrades vehicles cannot be far behind. Reverting to Blackpool's much loved cream and green branding on its buses (and trams) could be well be relevant in the foreseeable future.
The all new hydrogen cell powered buses are emission free except for water (vapour) and at a stroke significantly improve on air quality standards along central traffic corridors in the West End and City of London with high frequency bus routes. Single deck hybrid and electric buses have been in service in the capital for several years but this is the first time that double deck hydrogen cell powered versions are being developed. Contracts for increasing procurement of all electric buses have been placed by London's transport and local government authorities as the impact and scale of air pollution has become front page and headline news.
Blackpool fortunately does not have the level of air pollution faced by London or other major cities such as Liverpool and Manchester. Nonetheless BTS, Blackpool's publicly owned transport operator is pursuing its own strategy of replacement of the current fleet with all electric and hydrogen cell powered vehicles in the near and medium term. Examination of options is underway by the company to determine optimal benefits in capital costs and operating economies as a precursor to any contract decisions. We may well be seeing trial demonstrators in the town in due course alongside the necessary infrastructure for servicing and 'fuelling' vehicles of this type. No doubt some interesting lessons can be learned from London operators already with growing fleets of hybrid buses, as well as the latest WrightBus designed double deck version launched last week.
Along with an expanding tram network - the resort is set to become an emission free transport operator in the next decade, again living up to its motto 'Progress'. It is worth recalling that the 1880s saw Blackpool eschew the easier option of installing steam or horse trams along the promenade for the advanced benefits of electric power then coming into its own on multiple fronts and applications. It now operates the oldest continuous electric street tramway in the world. Whilst the later second generation of electric tramways catch headlines in Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield etc - they are only still playing catch up with Blackpool. Something to be proud of here.