Hybrid buses in London

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Wright Gemini 2 hybrid double-decker bus in the distinctive red and green livery worn by most hybrid vehicles in London
New Routemaster which utilises hybrid technology

Hybrid buses are operated on a number of bus services in London. The first were introduced in March 2006 on route 360, and by July 2012 over 300 were in use. The first double-deck hybrid bus in the world was introduced into service in London in January 2007. Transport for London initially stated that it intended to make all new buses delivered for use in London hybrids from 2012, but this requirement was later dropped.


Hybrid electric buses use a combination of an electric battery pack and a diesel engine to provide power, and produce around 40% less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than traditional diesel engined buses. Energy generated during braking is used to charge the batteries of hybrid vehicles.[1] Later in 2006 the vehicles were temporarily withdrawn from service when their diesel engines overheated.[2]

Transport is responsible for around 20% of London's CO2 emissions; buses make up 5% of the transport total. The city has set a target of a 20% reduction in emissions by the year 2020. Converting London's entire bus fleet to hybrid vehicles would reduce CO2 emissions by around 200,000 tonnes per year.[2]

Other low-emission buses have also been used in London. Three hydrogen fuel cell powered buses were used on route 25 from 2004, but have since been withdrawn; eight are now operating on route RV1. An ethanol fuelled double-decker bus was operated by Transdev London in 2008 and 2009.[3]

Operational history[edit]

Route 141 was the first in the world to be operated with a hybrid double-decker. Although the original vehicle has left the route, it is still served by hybrids such as this Wright Gemini 2 integral.

The first hybrid buses to enter service in London were six Wright Electrocity single-deckers. These were ordered in March 2005 to operate on route 360.[4] The buses were unveiled by the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, on February 7, 2006, with the intention of starting operation on the following day.[5]

A double-deck hybrid vehicle intended for use in London was unveiled in October 2006. The bus, which cost £285,000 and was constructed by Wrightbus, was the first hybrid double-decker in the world, and was painted in red and green to symbolise the environmental benefits.[6] It entered service in February 2007 on route 141.[1]

No more hybrids were delivered until December 2008, when twenty-five vehicles entered service. These were introduced onto five routes run by four different operators. A further eighteen were due to follow in January 2009.[7] However, the last of these did not enter service until July, when six Volvo B5L double-deckers joined the existing vehicles on route 141.[8]

Transport for London stated that it intended to have introduced around 300 hybrids into service by 2012.[9] This was achieved in July 2012, when an Alexander Dennis Enviro400 double-decker of Abellio London became the 300th hybrid in use when it entered service on route 211.[10][11] It was originally intended that every bus introduced into service after 2012 would be a hybrid,[2] but this requirement was later dropped.[9]

The New Routemaster double-decker was specified and constructed to a hybrid design. The first eight vehicles entered service on Arriva London route 38 in February 2012.[12]

Current operations[edit]

A hybrid Optare Tempo on route E8

More than 1,200 hybrid buses are currently in use in London,[13] operating on routes 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 23, 24, 27, 29, 38, 49, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 73, 74, 75, 76, 88, 94, 109, 122, 137,[14] 139, 148, 178, 188, 189, 205, 211, 319, 332, 333, 350, 360, 371, 388, 390, 415, 436, 472 ,507 ,521 ,C3 and E1.[9][15]

A variety of models of hybrid vehicle are currently used. These include the Alexander Dennis Enviro200H, Wright Electrocity, Optare Tempo and BYD electric bus single-deckers and the Volvo B5LH, Wright Gemini 2, Alexander Dennis Enviro400H and New Routemaster double-deckers.[3] Route 141 used to be the only route that operated with two types of hybrid.[8]


The introduction of hybrid vehicles in London has received praise from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which awarded Transport for London the first ever Low Carbon Champion Award for Buses in July 2010.[16]


Transport for London stated in July 2012 that orders already in place for hybrid buses will take the number of vehicles in use by 2013 to 400. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, committed to introducing around another 1000 into service before 2016, of which 600 will be of the New Routemaster designed by Thomas Heatherwick.[10]

New Routemasters have been ordered for 149 from October 2015.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Hybrid double-decker bus launched". BBC News. 16 March 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c Milmo, Dan (26 October 2006). "London plans hybrid bus fleet to cut carbon emissions". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ a b Wilson, Tony (24 October 2010). "Hybrids in London". Focus Transport. 
  4. ^ "First Electrocity order for Wrightbus". Bus & Coach Magazine. 18 March 2005. 
  5. ^ ""Cleaner, greener" buses for route 360". London SE1 community site. 7 February 2006. 
  6. ^ Law, Peter (31 October 2006). "First hybrid double decker bus unveiled". This Is Local London. 
  7. ^ "London steps up hybrid trials". Bus & Coach Magazine. 3 December 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "Volvo hybrids launched in London". Bus & Coach Magazine. 9 July 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c "Hybrid buses". Transport for London. 
  10. ^ a b "London takes 300th hybrid bus". Bus & Coach Magazine. 6 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "300th hybrid bus introduced to London's fleet, helping to improve air quality". Transport for London. 5 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Booth, Gavin (December 2011). "The real deal: First Borismaster ready for London". Buses (681): 6–7. 
  13. ^ "Hybrid buses". Transport for London. 
  14. ^ http://www.londonbusroutes.net/details.htm
  15. ^ http://londonbusroutes.net/details.htm#191
  16. ^ "London Buses wins Low Carbon Champions Award for green buses". Transport for London. July 16, 2010. 
  17. ^ http://londonbusroutes.net/changes.htm