First Bus has started double decker hydrogen vehicle service in the North East Scotland city of Aberdeen.

The public transport vehicles are built by UK firm, Wrightbus and plans are in place for Aberdeen to make its own hydrogen to power the buses.

“Everyone at Wrightbus is incredibly proud to see the world’s-first hydrogen double decker bus fleet in full service and carrying passengers around the streets of Aberdeen,” said Wrightbus chairman, Jo Bamford. “It marks a pivotal moment in the city’s commitment to reaching net zero.

“We will see further Wrightbus hydrogen buses in locations across the UK, with fleets due to launch in Birmingham and London later this year. It’s vital other towns and cities sit up and take note of their example. 

“Hydrogen has an important part to play in the decarbonisation of transport and the reduction in CO2 levels we need to reach to ensure a net zero future.”

While prototype hydrogen buses have been designed and used previously, Wrightbus says the double deckers are the first of their kind to go into operation. The buses take less than 10 minutes to fully refuel.

The vehicles will be operated mainly on Service 19 (Peterculter to Tillydrone) along with other services and is part-funded by the European Union’s JIVE project, which aims to aid commercialisation of hydrogen buses through joint procurement between cities. Cities that will follow Aberdeen include London and Birmingham, with Dundee and Brighton and Hove being lead partners in JIVE2.

The new GBP8.3m (US$11.4m) project has been funded by Aberdeen City Council, the Scottish government, and the European Union (FCH JU), with an investment of around GBP500,000 per vehicle.

The UK’s first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station was opened in Aberdeen in 2015 as part of a GBP19m green transport demonstration project.

The Aberdeen City Council-led project tested the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies.