JCB heir announces vision to bring 3,000 hydrogen buses to UK streets

By Jack Evans, PA Motoring Reporter

Jo Bamford, the heir to JCB, has showcased plans which would see 3,000 hydrogen buses rolled out across the UK.

Submitted in a document to government ministers, Bamford’s vision would mean the introduction of the UK-built state-of-the-art buses in key cities such as London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester.

Bamford, who leads a green hydrogen production company called Ryse and last year acquired hydrogen bus-producing Wrightbus, believes that hydrogen technology must play a crucial role in the British economy’s recovery following the coronavirus outbreak.

He also thinks that the lowered pollution levels which have been achieved as an indirect result of the Covid-19 outbreak must be built upon through the use of lower-emissions vehicles.

“Cities around the world are seeing massive reductions in air pollution as many vehicles have been kept off the road during the pandemic,” said Mr Bamford.

“However, the reality is that if we just go back to how public transport has traditionally been run, levels of pollution will quickly rise again to the same levels as before the crisis. We have an opportunity with hydrogen-powered transport to make a huge difference to air quality, and for UK jobs as well.

“With increased orders on this scale I could increase the workforce at Wrightbus by nearly 700 per cent.”

Bamford has requested that the government puts aside £500m – or 10 per cent of its National Bus Strategy fund – to help kick-start the UK’s hydrogen industry. It is estimated that £200m of this will be needed to create hydrogen production sites, as well as bespoke, zero-emissions vehicles that would help to transport hydrogen to bus depots in the heart of cities.

An additional £300m is also being requested to help give a financial incentive to operators to purchase one of the cleaner buses for the same price as a conventional diesel-powered version.

Bamford added: “The government gives the public a subsidy to buy an electric car, why shouldn’t a bus operator – who provides a vital service for the local community – be supported to buy a clean, green, UK-built hydrogen bus?”.