The Dundee Courier, today, claimed:
‘Hydrogen-powered buses to put Dundee at forefront of green travel. Dundee is to get 12 hydrogen fuel cell buses in a bid to reduce emissions in the city as part of ambitious plans to promote environmentally-friendly transport. Both Dundee and Aberdeen are receiving the environmentally-friendly vehicles as part of a Europe-wide project to deploy 152 hydrogen fuel cell buses across 14 cities.’
However, back in October 2017, CNBC claimed:
‘Aberdeen already has 10 in use and will receive another 10 as part of the new deal, making it one of the largest fleets in Europe.’
Can one eat a peh on a Dundee bus? The consequent gas would take hours to emerge.
I can’t help but think that London could do with a lot more than 10 or 12 to deal with the pollution there.
The average age of buses in Glasgow is 10 years (cf Lothian buses, municipally owned, at arms’ length, is 4 years). So, not many hydrogen powered buses there, or even mildly green ones. Glasgow is to become a Low Emission Zone at the end of this year and the city government has been criticised by environmental groups for a ‘lack of ambition’. One of the main sources of pollution is diesel powered vehicles, of which buses are a major contributor. (They are not the only contributor and other sources of pollution need to be brought into line soon). It has been known for some time that restrictions on diesel and emissions and a range of other things would be being phased in fairly soon to meet climate change targets. I suspect that the bus companies in Glasgow – all privately owned, receiving a substantial public subsidy, increasing fares pretty steeply and leaving big areas of the city poorly served by public transport – are dragging their heels over investing their own PRIVATE money into the kinds of buses that Aberdeen and Dundee are buying, in the hope of creating a public outcry to force more PUBLIC money to be pushed their way to fund improvements.
The companies also need to deploy a range of buses of different sizes so that they can have frequent shuttle services around residential areas, which connect with mainstream cross city buses or rail stations, with transfers being effected quickly by smart ticketing.
So we need re-regulation of public transport.
It is not just from a pollution reduction perspective that we need investment in the bus fleet. We need greater comfort for passengers. We need the introduction of cross mode ticketing to speed up journeys. These kinds of things are needed if people are to be tempted out of private cars on to public transport. By shifting people out of private cars, we will further reduce polluting emissions.
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An excellent analysis Alasdair. I would just add that privatisation is really a tax on customers, often resulting in worse service at higher cost as profits land in the pockets of the executives/shareholders. We need to re-nationalise or otherwise bring transport under public ownership/control and create a truly integrated service that reaches all parts, is cheap, convenient, regular and comfortable.
The latest research breakthrough suggests the hydrogen economy may be nearer than we think: https://www.gasworld.com/solar-hydrogen-breakthrough-at-scottish-university-/2014419.article
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Well said Alasdair! Send your comment as a letter to Glasgow city council! Tell them, the buses are dirty, the bus drivers unhappy, the passengers unhappy & while those old wrecks are still driving about Glasgow, they have absolutely no right to ban any kind of car drivers from the city centre until those are gone – how hard can it be to re-regulate then replace the fleet, surely a very quick and easy plan to implement to gain huge improvements, and I’m sure the initial outlay could be recouped fairly quickly from everyone eager to use the shiny new clean quiet buses with happy drivers. I’ll sign your petition. It’s madness subsidising private companies to make profits for shareholders while the workers barely scrape minimum wage.
I’ve been insanely jealous of aberdeen’s H buses for a while – (I was discussing the future of cars with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, just a few weeks back, bemoaning the expense & difficulty of electric cars, and out of the blue he started talking about hydrogen fuel cell being the future for cars, that electric cars are not green – disposing of batteries is not environmentally friendly. Because he seemed to know about the technology, I was shocked to find he had no idea Aberdeen has an H fleet of buses – the things the MSM deem not worthy for us to know??) – and now Dundee gets some! They already have a huge number of the best bakeries in the universe, they don’t need H buses! Glasgow has the most absolute dire need of the largest fleet of H buses, particularly the North and East sides.
I do not have a petition, but there is a campaign called ‘Get Glasgow Moving’ (GetGlasgowMoving.org), which I heard about only yesterday. I am not a member of the campaign, yet.
Although the campaign is about Glasgow, it really should cover most of the former Strathclyde area, because the borders between communities are purely arbitrary and, established by the Conservatives around 1990 to ensure that there were affluent enclaves which became separate council areas. It was gerrymandering. Public transport connects all of that area with Glasgow as the economic engine.
The same applies to the hinterlands of Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and to lesser extents, Perth, Stirling, Inverness.
Probably, there is a case for a whole-Scotland smart ticketing system (such as my over-60s bus pass is!).
I think that the regulatory powers are retained at Westminster, but I have heard arguments which imply that there are ways in which the Scottish Government could facilitate more democratically accountable public transport systems which address what the public wants. However, attacking transport (and Mr Humza Yusaf), along with bad news stories about NHS Scotland, is a staple of the BBC and the rest of the msm.
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Thank you for the campaign website, now I have seen it, I think I’ve actually seen it before – not so much emphasis on clean buses, but definitely a worthwhile endeavour.
You are right, of course, there is a whole host of difficulties involved in upgrading the public transport system, and hardly an easy ‘buy a new fleet of buses’ – I am just jealous, while in fact, the more places that gain better transport options make it more likely Glasgow will benefit in the future. And the good thing about not being first at something is that you can adopt the tried & tested system!
Your mention of the over-60s bus pass, has reminded me about how universal benefits help along those steps toward equality. It seems, though, there is a section of society that dislike equality (makes them feel less important?), how often do we have to hear the mantra ‘I can afford it, I should be made to pay for it, it should be means tested’ – eh? If you have been paying your taxes, you have ALREADY paid for it, it is right and proper you should benefit from it (bus pass/prescription/baby boxes). One guy in the work having got his bus pass started up a litany of ‘it is ridiculous, they just hand these things out to everyone,,,’ – but each time this quickly descends into envious banter equating to ‘I want one too’ 🙂 . People, eh?
You’ll remember the days of Unemployment Benefit, separate from the dole? Where it was expected that folk might have a gap between jobs, and if you’d paid into the system, you got a wee bit more & less stigma, you could afford to buy an interview outfit, and still feel that you were just ‘between jobs’ so morale was not destroyed. Seemed like a good idea to me, and a shame it was stopped. A safety net like that can surely help people bounce back?