The first two of 600 low emission hybrid buses manufactured in Northern Ireland have been completed for use in London
The first of a new fleet of low emission, hybrid London buses have been despatched to the capital from a factory in Northern Ireland, Mayor Boris Johnson has announced.
So far two buses have been sent to London, with another four due this week and a further 594 set to be manufactured for the capital over the next three years, the Mayor revealed on Friday (April 12).
The buses will initially be used for driver training and familiarisation, according to Transport for London (TfL), but from June 22 2013 route 24 between Pimlico and Hampstead Heath will become the first bus route in the capital to operate exclusively with the new vehicles.
The first 27 buses (plus 5 spares) will be used to convert route 24, which is used by 28,000 people each day.Â Another route will be converted in the autumn, TfL said, with a total of around 90 new buses due to be delivered in 2013.
TfL claims that independent emission testing of a prototype vehicle has shown that the new London buses, manufactured Northern Ireland firm the Wright Group, are the cleanest and greenest of their type in the world.
Financial approval to order 600 hybrid buses for London, which will be delivered in batches over the next three years, was given by the TfL board in September 2012. Approximately 200 vehicles will be delivered in 2014, 250 in 2015 with the remainder in 2016.
When the final batch of new buses is delivered in 2016, more than 1,600 hybrid buses (representing around 20% of Londonâ€™s 8,500-strong bus fleet) will be in service on the streets of London.
This order represents the largest order of hybrid buses placed in Europe and will help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the capital by almost 20,000 tonnes a year, TfL claims.
Test results for a Wright Group hybrid vehicle that had been in passenger service for eight months and driven more than 15,000 miles showed that it emitted lower levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in comparison to diesel buses and the fleet average for hybrid buses.
According to TfL, many components of the new bus, including engines, chassis, superstructure and seats, are manufactured in the UK.
Mayor of London, Mr Johnson, said: â€œI am delighted that our first gleaming new buses have driven off the production line, through the gates of Wrightbus and are now London-bound. These fabulous machines meld the very best in design, engineering and green engine technology.
â€œI believe they will be hugely popular with passengers and they will be joined by hundreds more of their brethren in the coming years.â€
The Wright Group was founded 1946 and is a family owned and managed company. Wrightbus won a contract with TfL in 2009 to build eight prototypes with an option to produce the first 1,000 vehicles in London.
In February, the Mayor of London announced his target for all buses in London to by hybrid by 2020 as part of a series of proposals to improve air quality in the capital (see airqualitynews.com story).