World’s first 100% hydrogen BRT system launched in southern France

World’s first 100% hydrogen BRT system launched in southern France

Public transport operator Keolis has contributed to the launch of Pau’s 100% hydrogen BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system, called Fébus, a global first for an 18 meter long vehicle. Inaugurated by François Bayrou, Mayor and President of the Pau Béarn Pyrénées intercommunal area, this new service was opened to the public in December. The innovative, sustainable mode of transport serves 14 stations along a six kilometer long dedicated BRT lane and is part of the city public transport network.

A long-standing partner of Pau transport operator SPL STAP (Société de Transport de l’Agglomération Paloise), in charge of operating Pau Béarn Pyrénées Mobilités’ city public transport network for 20 years, Keolis has worked on the launch of Fébus, which represents the culmination of the overhaul of the city transport network IDELIS, aimed at modernizing and developing the transport offer to increase the region’s appeal.

Keolis is providing technical assistance for the operation of the eight Fébus hydrogen-powered buses that run in the center of Pau. These vehicles operate on the route between François Mitterand Hospital, in the north of the intercommunal area, and Pau train station, in the south. They serve the city’s main points of activity: the educational (university), administrative as well as commercial and pleasure hubs (supermarket, cinema, restaurants, city center and its shops).

Thanks to a route which runs 85% of the time on six kilometer long dedicated lanes protected from other traffic, and a priority system at crossroads, the travel time of this key line for getting around Pau is only 17 minutes.

Built by the Belgian manufacturer Van Hool, these buses produce their electricity on board, using a hydrogen fuel cell. The hydrogen used to supply energy to the vehicles is produced in the station built near the IDELIS bus depot in Pau. A key asset of hydrogen power, these vehicles emit no pollution – be it noise or atmospheric pollution through greenhouse gas emissions– as the engine emissions are composed solely of water. With their range of 240 km/day, the buses do not need to be refueled while in service. Refueling takes place at night in the station.

Accessible to people with reduced mobility, these 18 meter vehicles have a 145 person capacity and include 32 seats and large bay windows that provide passengers with plenty of light. Commissioning this fleet of eight buses required the construction of a hydrogen station, inaugurated in September 2019, as well as a maintenance workshop adapted to using hydrogen. One hundred employees were trained in this project (50 for driving and 50 for maintenance and control).

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