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First Hydrogen bus route in France


Van Hool, the renowned independent Belgian manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles is one of the lead players that is part of a consortium that will deploy the first hydrogen bus route in France, in Pau. It will be the creation of a “zero emission” bus route to operated from September 2019 between the hospital and the railway station in Pau.

Fuelled by hydrogen from renewable sources, eight buses from the Bus Rapid Transit service line (BHNS) will be operating on the streets of thee French city of Pau within two years.

The buses will form an artery of the new transportation network designed by the City within its urban redevelopment project aimed at improving the perception and use of public spaces in a sustainable way.

The use of hydrogen buses is a French first
The so-called hydrogen buses are electric buses whose energy is stored in the form of pressurized hydrogen: electricity is produced in real time on board the vehicle using innovative technology combining hydrogen and oxygen: a Fuel cell. This “zero emission” technology does not emit any greenhouse gases or atmospheric pollutants during its use, only water vapor.

Hydrogen buses have solid advantages: long driving range (350 km) and rapid recharging (10 minutes). These provide them, amid the various zero-emission bus technology options, with the highest level of operational flexibility and productivity for a bus operator.

The other characteristics of the BHNS buses principally comprise a high-end experience for the traveler (comfort, safety, availability, information), high frequency with short waiting time and a predominantly dedicated bus lane. The BHNS is an effective alternative to the introduction of a rail mode transport, such as the tramway.

The bus will be designed and manufactured by Van Hool, the European manufacturer with the most expertise in hydrogen mobility with more than 50 fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) hydrogen buses already in operation. As a leader and innovator, Van Hool is developing, from its electric platform, an articulated 18-meter fuel cell bus model for the needs of this BRT(BHNS) line.

This bus project is part of a policy for sustainable mobility, preservation of the environment and the living environment of Pau’s inhabitants. The BHNS is the core of a new mobility but also a vector for an enhanced and sustainable quality of life, increasing economic and residential attractiveness.

€7M in funding for the project is coming from regional and European funds, notably within the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking framework (FCH-JU).