$1m hydrogen bus for eastern route

Auckland Transport plans to trial the hydrogen-powered bus pictured on the Howick to Britomart route. Photo supplied

Some public transport commuters travelling between east Auckland and the central city will soon be able to do so in the comfort of a $1 million hydrogen-powered bus.

Auckland Transport (AT) plans to trial the innovative passenger vehicle alongside a battery-electric bus of a similar size.

It will be operated by Howick and Eastern Buses on route 70 from Botany to Britomart via Panmure and is scheduled to be on the road in early April. The trial will run for two years.

The hydrogen bus was built by Global Bus Ventures in Christchurch and costs $1.175m.

AT spokeswoman Natalie Polley says the initiative is part of the organisation’s work with Ports of Auckland and it will be the first hydrogen bus used in New Zealand.

“The bus will be refuelled with hydrogen at Ports of Auckland’s temporary refuelling station at the port’s yard.

“Through the development of the low emission bus roadmap, AT has identified hydrogen as a potential fuel for the city’s future low-emission public transport fleet.

“AT has been assessing hydrogen fuel-cell bus options to support the transition to zero emission buses and is a key partner of the hydrogen demonstration project with Ports of Auckland.”

Howick and Eastern Buses general manager Sheryll Otway says the company’s drivers are “excited to be amongst the first in New Zealand to get behind the wheel of this hydrogen-fuelled vehicle”.

“The bus is sleek, quiet and comfortable, but shows presence.

“Hydrogen technology is continuing to evolve and has been proven as being a safe and sustainable fuel for heavy vehicles, including buses.

“Hydrogen buses are zero emission, as instead of emitting gas, the safe combustion of hydrogen creates water.”

Polley says AT has also formed a partnership with Hiringa Energy, a New Zealand company that’s establishing one of the world’s first nationwide hydrogen refuelling networks”.

“This is another partnership for future hydrogen bus refuelling out south that will give us more choice in the market going forward.

“The trial … is intended to test operational performance and encourage greater uptake of hydrogen buses and production of green hydrogen.

“Under the public transport operating model, bus operators are free to choose the technology that best suits their individual business needs.”

Auckland mayor Phil Goff says: “Transport makes up more than 40 per cent of Auckland’s emissions profile, so transitioning to low and zero-emission vehicles is important to helping Auckland achieve its climate change goals.”

Hiringa Energy chief executive officer Andrew Clennett says the company is “thrilled” to be working with AT to ensure that all future buses are zero emission.

“We applaud AT’s forward thinking and approach to emissions reduction and look forward to working with the team to leverage our refuelling network and capability to ensure green hydrogen is available when needed.”

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