As of right now, all new single-decker buses in England’s capital will be zero-emissions. There will still be new hybrid-engined double-decker buses, but pure-diesel buses are now a thing of the past. London’s mayor Sadiq Khan made the announcement recently when he launched a new hydrogen-powered double-decker.
The mayor’s plan is to clean up London’s deadly air, which causes 10,000 premature deaths each year. Part of this plan is to phase out dirty diesel buses. The city will buy around 300 zero-emissions buses by 2020. Right now, there are 51 battery-only buses in service, and three of London’s bus routes are already fully electric.
London’s commitment to cleaner air is part of a Europe-wide push to remove dirty transit from its cities, and cities outside Europe are joining in. According to the mayor’s office, eleven other cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Cape Town, all also plan to stop buying diesel buses by 2020.
“I want London to become a world leader in hydrogen and electric bus technology,” said Khan in a statement. “[I]t’s great that more cities are getting on board to phase out the procurement of pure diesel buses which sends a clear signal that only the cleanest technologies are wanted in our cities.”
Much of the funding for London’s plans comes from the EU. The $12.7 million hydrogen project is funded in large part by Europe. This money, and funding for future green projects, will disappear if Britain goes ahead with its short-sighted Brexit plans. Then again, Khan seems committed to cleaning up the city’s air anyway, and London is rich enough that it can afford to make these changes anyway. In fact, given the costs of those 10,000 early deaths, one wonders whether London can afford not to clean itself up.