The Anonymous Widower

A Bus For The Twenty-First Century

What puzzles me, is why bus drivers in London, seem to be suffering more from COVID-19 infection, than drivers elsewhere!

In London, all buses have two or three doors and contactless ticketing, whereas in many parts of the UK, there is often only one door and no contactless ticketing.

This must mean, that there is generally less interaction between the driver and passengers in the capital. So logic would say, that outside of London, there should be more passing of infections between everybody on the bus.

An Observation In Manchester

Ten years ago, I observed behaviour on a single-door Manchester bus going to Oldham, with a union rep for bus drivers, who by chance happened to be sitting beside me.

The scrum as passengers entered and left the bus by the same door was horrific and the rep told me, that the local riff-raff were always trying to nick the driver’s money.

He told me, that a London system based on contactless ticketing was union policy and would cut attacks on staff, which he said had virtually stopped in London.

A Bus For The Twenty-First Century

The government has said that millions will be available for new zero-carbon buses, powered by hydrogen. I doubt that batteries will be able to provide enough power for many years.

It is my belief that given the new circumstances, that the bus should also have the following features.

  • It should be as infection-unfriendly as possible, as COVID-19 won’t be the last deadly infection.
  • Contactless ticketing by credit card or pass.
  • Full CCTV  to identify non-payers or those with stolen cards.
  • Two doors with one in the middle for entry and one at the back for exit.
  • It would be possible on some routes for both doors to be used for entry and exit.
  • Wheelchairs would enter and leave by the middle door, where the ramp would be fitted.

I would put the stairs to the top deck on the left hand side of the bus, with the foot of the stairs leading directly into the lobby by the middle door.

The Van Hool ExquiCity

The Van Hool ExquiCity is an alternative solution, that is already running in Belfast, where it is named Glider.

It is probably best described as a double-ended articulated bus, that runs on rubber tyres, that thinks it’s a tram.

This press release from Ballard is entitled Ballard-Powered Fuel Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now in Revenue Service in France, describes the latest hydrogen-powered version of the Exquicity, which is now in service in Pau in France.

  • Each bus appears to be powered by a 100 kW hydrogen fuel cell.
  • The buses are over eighteen metres long.
  • Twenty-four metre double-articulated tram-buses are available.
  • The buses seat 125 passengers
  • The buses have a range of 300 kilometres between refuelling.

I like the concept, as it brings all the advantages of a tram at a lower cost.

Here’s a video.

It certainly seems a quiet bus.

I desperately need to get to Pau to see these vehicles.

Conclusion

We could design a new bus for the twenty-first century, that tackles the problems facing the bus industry.

  • Climate change and global warming.
  • Control of deadly infections like COVID-19.
  • Efficient, fast ticketing.
  • Attacks on staff.
  • Petty crime.
  • Access to public transport for the disabled, the elderly and those with reduced mobility.

We certainly have the skills to design and manufacture a suitable bus.

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Health, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ballard-Powered Fuel-Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now In Revenue Service In France

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Green Car Congress.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ballard Power Systems announcedthat 8 ExquiCity tram-buses built by Van Hool NV and powered by 8 Ballard FCveloCity-HD 100-kilowatt fuel cell modules have been inaugurated at a ceremony in Pau, France and are now in revenue service in Pau’s Bus Rapid Transit System.

The Van Hool ExquiCity tram buses have the following specification.

  • Two sections
  • Length – 18.6 metres (New Routemaster – 11.2 metres)
  • Width – 2.6 metres (New Routemaster – 2.52 metres)
  • Weight – 18.5 tonnes (New Routemaster – 12.8 tonnes)
  • Passengers – 125 (New Routemaster – 80-87 – More on a 21/38/73 in the Peak)
  • Hydrogen Range – 300 km.
  • Power – 100 kW (New Routemaster – 138 kW)

I have compared with a New Routemaster, as both vehicles are designed as hybrids with a power source charging a battery which drives the vehicle, through a Siemens traction motor.

The Glider buses in Belfast are diesel-electric hybrid versions of the ExquiCity.

Conclusion

I do wonder from looking at the comparison with a New Routemaster, that the ExquiCity could be an interesting way to get 56 % more passengers into 66 % more road space. But it may be more efficient to use two New Routemasters to carry 28 % more passengers in 29 % more road space than the ExquiCity.

It is interesting to note that the Mercedes Citaro bendy buses in London, which were so hated by motorists because they blocked junctions were also eighteen metres long like the ExquiCity.

Obviously, if buses ran on a separated bus way, the length is not a problem.

I do feel though, that a purpose-built hydrogen-powered double-deck bus, will be better for most UK towns and cities.

This article on the BBC is entitled Wrightbus Owner Jo Bamford Says Coming To NI Is Revelation.

This is a paragraph.

Mr Bamford, the son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, told BBC News NI he has a keen interest in the use of hydrogen to power buses and that was the main reason he got involved with Wrightbus.

Consider.

  • Wrightbus designed and built the chassis for the diesel-electric hybrid New Routemaster.
  • Wrightbus pioneered the low-floor bus.
  • In March 2015 JCB made a strategic investment of £4.9M in hydrogen company; ITM Power.
  • ITM Power built the hydrogen filling station for the ExquiCity tram-buses in Pau.

It looks to me, that Jo Bamford, with some help from his father, has assembled the components for a serious assault on the hydrogen bus market.

 

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment