Taking the Hy road: West Coast Motors to trial hydrogen bus

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Oban will become the next place after the Highland capital to trial a hydrogen bus this month.


The hydrogen fuel cell bus, in a combined initiative between HITRANS, Protium Energy Limited and Opportunity Cromarty Firth, is currently being operated by Stagecoach Highlands on routes from Inverness to Alness.

The trial will conclude following the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, before the bus is passed on to West Coast Motors to run the 5/405 service from Oban to Balcardine from 8-12 November.

The future of transport in Oban is also high on the agenda for Argyll and Bute Council. A successful bid for city status next year as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations would help bring in extra funding to fuel its vision for an integrated travel hub in the port.

A new link road for Dunbeg and creating a drone hub at the airport where there have been recent experiments for Royal Mail and the NHS are also part of the focus ahead.

Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Robin Currie, says potential benefits of city status would be about creating opportunities for investment to progress things that matter to local people.

Looking to the future, West Coast Motors, which has grown from the 1920s to employ 600 staff and run 270 buses and coaches today, said the hydrogen bus trial will give them ‘a fantastic opportunity to understand the technology involved’.

The Caetano hydrogen fuel cell bus has a 60kW Fuel Cell and a 44kW battery pack, providing a range of 400km with 30km of this distance powered by battery alone. The high performance bus emits zero CO2 emissions and the hydrogen fuel cells are stored in the vehicles roof, allowing more space on board for the comfort of passengers.

Highland councillor, and HITRANS chairman, Allan Henderson said: ‘In funding the hydrogen supply from Element2 we are demonstrating that the Highlands and Islands are willing and able play a key part in the development of Scotland’s hydrogen economy.

‘With transport responsible for 37 per cent of Greenhouse HG emissions in Scotland, we are all going to have to shift towards more environmentally-friendly, low carbon transport.’

David Beaton, managing director at Stagecoach Highlands said: ‘The future of transport is undoubtedly heading towards ultra-low and zero emission so it is really exciting to be able to trial this next generation of vehicles. Travelling by bus, when we can, is one of the easiest ways to address climate change through carbon reduction of our own journeys.’

Tim Harper, CEO of Element 2, said: ‘As with all Element 2’s supply, the hydrogen will be from green or sustainable sources, in our commitment to the helping the UK reach it’s net-zero targets.’