Hybrid buses in London

Welcome to my guide to hybrid buses in London.

Transport for London was trialling loads of different types of hybrid buses, to reduce carbon emissions.

Today there are 3 main types of hybrid bus in London, The Enviro 400H BAE, Wrightbus Volvo B5LH, and of course Boris's Bus (Siemens). Hybrid buses have now been superseded by electric buses. At the current moment, almost every bus in the center of London (Zone 1) is now a hybrid. The first hybrid buses came out in 2005 as a trial of new technoligy, so it took them 12 years to replace every bus in zone 1 with a hybrid. This is pretty good going. Now today the same thing is going to happen bit with electric buses, while the rest of London will become enitley with hybrid buses. See my guide to electric buses in London.

The hybrid buses were first introduced as part of the hybrid bus trials. Lots of different technologys were used. There was a wide variety of different types of buses.

There have many hybrid technoligies trialed including series hybrid, parelell hybrid and hydrogen. Today, very sadly, not a single bus from the original trails is still in service. It was very fun riding on buses with such interesting and different drive systems. The winners of the Bus trails are the Enviro 400 H BAE and the Volvo B5LH ishit, and every new bus built today is now one of the two. Today TFL are now doing simular trials, but this time with electric buses by BYD, Optare and Irizar. As well as an experimental system by Alexander Dennis.

At the time of the trials I was not happy with news reports about London hybrid buses. These often have a photo of a different bus to the one they are talking about. These articles are very imprecise and get muddled between the different buses. This inspiried me to make this guide.

For example, If you look at articles on the internet about the current hydrogen buses in London, you will be amazed at how many of these use photos of the old Citaro Hydrogens (long since gone out of service), VERY LAZY REPORTING.

I wrote this bus guide after seeing so much very poor reporting. Also I am sick of Boris's bus getting too much media attention (when there are other hybrid buses which are far better).

My hybrid bus guide precisly looks at all the different low emmisions buses and the design and technology behind them. I hope you enjoy reading it. This page show the evolution of the hybrid bus.

Myllennium Gas buses (1999)

The popular model of bus, the East Lancs Myllennium, was first debut for the Millennium Dome shuttle (for the one year that the Dome was open during the year 2000).

The Millennium was a major event, and many companies chose this time to lanch new products and celebrate new technology. So along with everyone else East Lancs were wanting to show of there (at the time) brand new design of bus, the Myllennium.

17 Myllenniums were built for the Millennium, and to be with the millennium fever of exciting new technology, 3 of these buses were powered by gas (At the time people thought that gas was the future to reduce CO2 emmisions, but this never really took off). I can remember riding on these buses to the Dome when I was very young, but this was long before the days of Youtube (There are no known videos on the internet of these buses, which means that sadly the sound they made was never recorded).

The 3 gas buses were withdrawn from service a couple of years after the dome closed (I'm guessing that TFL thought it wasn't worth getting in the gas for only 3 buses). The rest of the buses ran until 2011, where they were sold off.

You can tell apart these original Millennium Myllenniums as they have a custom numberplate with the letters "GMT" (the 3 gas ones: V8GMT V9GMT V10GMT). What has happened to these buses is unknown.

Date: 1999 (withdrawn: 2004?)
Max Speed: ???
Max Acceleration: ???
System: ???
Number in service: none (was 3)

(C) GAKEI - (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Wrightbus Electrocity Siemens (previously Enova) (2005)

These 6 buses were the first diesel-electric hybrids in London (named the "WHY" fleet), they run on the 360 route from Elephant to Kensington (by Go Ahead, London Central). These were built in 2005 and entered service in 2006. These buses originally used the Enova hybrid system (which makes a nice sound). They were modernized in 2011, and the Enova system was replaced with the Siemens ELFA hybrid system. Despite being the first, these buses are still in service, outlasting many other hybrids.

Both the original Enova system and the replacement Siemens system work in a similar way. The engine is used to generate electricity to charge the batteries, and an electric motor drives the bus. (There is no direct connection between the engine and the wheels).

Today the WHY fleet contains 13 buses...

WHY1 to WHY6 - The original 6 buses (originally were Enova, now converted to Siemens)

WHY7 - Not really part of the fleet (see section below) it originally looked different to the others until it was modernized in 2011. (originally was Enova, now converted to Siemens)

WHY8 to WHY13 - These 6 buses were built in 2011 to add to the fleet (I have no idea why Wrightbus continued to produce this now old design of bus. Why didn't they use their new styles of single decker. This is very strange). These buses use the Siemens system.

Date: 2005 (modernized: 2011)
Max Speed: 35mph
Max Acceleration: 2.5 mph/second
System: Siemens (were Enova)
Number in service: 13

(C) eastleighbusman - (CC BY-ND 2.0)


Wrightbus Electrocity Enova (2007)

These 6 diesel-electric buses were built in 2007, (Since these were new "state of the art" buses, I have no idea why Wrightbus didn't use their smart new series 1 design of bodywork). Five of these buses went to route 129 (Millennium Dome - Greenwich), and one went to route 360 and became part of the "WHY" fleet (WHY7) as mentioned above.

In 2011 Abellio lost the contract for the 129 route, and the five electrocitys were moved to the other side of London, to the R70 route, (Hampton - Richmond). Sadly in 2013 these buses were withdrawn.

Date: 2007 (withdrawn: 2013)
Max Speed: 35mph
Max Acceleration: 2.5 mph/second
System: Enova
Number in service: 0

(C) eastleighbusman - (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Further reading.....
Enova Website

Wrightbus Hybrid HEV1 Prototype (2006)

The world's first Double Deck Hybrid

This bus (LJ07ECE) was built in 2006 (but registered in 2007), and uses the Siemens diesel-electric hybrid system. It cost 285,000. It ran on Arriva London from 2007, on the 141 route (London Bridge - Palmers Green), then moved to London "East Thames Buses" in 2008 and ran on route 1 (Canada Water - Tottenham Court Road). In 2010 it was withdrawn from London, and moved to the Park and Ride service in Bath, painted into First livery (where its fame for being the worlds first hybrid double deck had been forgotten). This bus has sadly now been withdrawn.

see Wikipedia article

(C) Geof Sheppard - (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Second Prototype (2008)

The second prototype (WH1) never ran in London. It was delivered to Dublin Bus in Ireland in late 2008. It also used the Siemens hybrid system, and it had many technical problems. In 2012 it was sold to Ensign in Essex, where it was repainted to a smart new livery, but on the 10th June 2012 it caught fire in Ensign's Depot and was destroyed.

Third Prototype (2008)

The third bus (WHD1) was built in 2008, it ran on Go Ahead London General on route 141, also using the Siemens hybrid system. (REG: LX58CWJ). In 2012 this bus was withdrawn from service (I'm guessing this might be due to concerns that it might also catch fire).

Scania Omnicity Ethanol (2007)

This demonstrator was built in 2007 and ran in London in 2008 and 2009. It was then ran in Reading, and today it is now condemned to doing rail replacement work (I don't know if its still using ethanol). Reg: YN07LHD.

Date: 2007 (in service in London 2008 - 2009)
Max Speed: ???
Max Acceleration: ???
System: Scania Ethanol
Number in service: 1

(C) Arriva436 - (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Optare Versa Hybrid HOV1 (2007)

There is only one of this type (OP07ARE aka "Optare the bus"). It used to run on the 360 route (Elephant to Kensington) with the Wrightbus Electrocitys (you often had to wait a while for it to turn up). Also, just like the Electrocitys, this bus uses the Siemens diesel-electric hybrid system, but it seemed to have better acceleration than the wrightbuses.

Sadly this bus has now been withdrawn. I have no idea why. In 2015 it entered service again. It is now run by Quality Line in Epson.

Date: 2007 (withdrawn: 2013)
Max Speed: 40mph
Max Acceleration: 3 mph/second
System: Siemens
Number in service: none (was 1)


Wrightbus 2 Hybrids HW (2008)

Not to be confused with the identical looking Wrightbus Volvo hybrids.

These were 10 very nice hybrids, with fast acceleration, using the Siemens diesel-electric hybrid system. (these HWs are proper diesel-electric hybrids, unlike the HVs). 5 of these were listed as the "HW" fleet and ran on the 141 route (London Bridge - Palmers Green), the other 5 ran on the 328 route (Golders Green - Chelsea).

Even when these buses were new they did not run very often. There were many problems with them. It used to be very rare to see one running, and sadly sometime around 2012 these buses were withdrawn. They were brought by Ensign and the hybrid system on all of them was replaced with the updated Seimens system from Boris's bus.

Date: 2008 (withdrawn: 2012?)
Max Speed: 50mph
Max Acceleration: 4 mph/second
System: Siemens
Number in service: 0, used to be 10 (was 11 if you include the third prototype, see above)

(C) Arriva436 - (CC BY 3.0)


Horrid Volvo B5LH Wrightbuses (2009)

While the HWs are true hybrids, these HV buses are actually combined hybrids (also known as Parallel hybrids). This means these use both diesel electric power and conventional power.

True hybrid buses are never driven by the engine. The engine only generates the electricity to the electric motor. But with these buses the electric motor is only used when the bus first starts, then the bus switches back to the more conventional way of powering the bus directly by the diesil engine.

Even though the hybrid system is rather half hearted compared to the others, I would not have minded it if that was it, but no, there are many other problems with these crap buses. Firstly they very rarely go into electric mode, most of the time the buses are only driven by the diesil engine and the electric motor is hardly ever used. Secondly, when the bus is in electric mode the electric motor only speeds it up to 8 mph then it switches back to engine driven mode. Thirdly, when it switches from electric to engine driven mode there is a long delay with no acceleration. And finally, worst of all, when its in engine driven mode it has the most horrid gear changes. Since the late 70s there has been an amazing amount of technology put into bus gearboxes, buses have always had some of the best gearboxes by awesome companies, mainly VOITH, ZF and Allison. These gearboxes do not loose acceleration while changing gear. In the world of cars, manual gearboxes are common place, but in the world of buses, manual gearboxes have been non-existant for years. A smooth ride is the De facto standard in buses for decades. It is discusting that a company as large as Volvo thinks it is acceptable to use their lorry gearbox which changes gear as badly as a manual gearbox in a modern bus. These buses are total crap. The only good thing I can say about them is they do switch off their engines in electric mode (I never understood why early Siemens and BAE hybrids don't do this, although this feature is present in all their new buses).

Date: 2009
Max Speed: 55mph
Max Acceleration: 4.5 mph/second (but cuts out on gear-changes)
System: Volvo
Number in service: 6

6 prototypes of these buses (HV1 - HV6) were built in 2009, and are the Wrightbus 1 design, These are now the only double deck Wrightbus 1 hybrids in service. As with the other experementle hybrids, these buses were painted to advertise that they are hybrid.

(C) eastleighbusman - (CC BY-ND 3.0)


Horrid Volvo B5LH Wrightbus series 2s (2010 - 2013)

There are now loads of these horrid buses, they are one of the three large fleets of hybrids in London, with serveral hundred buses.

Wrightbus decided that due to the many problems with the Siemens double deck hybrids, that they are were to end their long running partnership with Siemens, and would no longer use Siemens as their provider of hybrid systems. AT THIS POINT WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE IS TO HAVE DECIDED TO USE BAEs AWESOME HYBRID SYSTEM. But no, Wrigtbus decided that all of their new buses would use the horrid Volvo system. It is shocking that anyone could think that the Volvo system was the slightest bit acceptable in a modern bus.

So from 2010 onwards all new Wrightbus hybrids now use the Volvo system, and these crap buses sold in there hundreds. The reason for this is that bus companies just want to run somthing that says "hybrid" so that they look green, and I'm guessing that these are the cheapest of the double deck hybrids. These buses are Wrightbus series 2 (The prototype were wrightbus series 1), and they no longer have the nice hybrid paintwork.

Date: 2010 (in production until 2013)
Max Speed: 55mph
Max Acceleration: 4.5 mph/second (but cuts out on gear-changes)
System: Volvo
Number in service: LOADS

Optare Tempos (2009)

These 10 buses were a fail. They entered service in 2009. 5 of them were run by Stagecoach on route 380 (Lewisham - Woolwich) but often on other routes, the other 5 were run by Metroline on route E8 (Ealing Boadway to Brentford). Both companies had withdrawen these buses by 2015.

On the outside these looked very nice, but that is the only thing that was good about them. These buses are combined hybrids (aka Parallel hybrid), as I said above I don't like this system, as its not a true hybrid. These buses had a hybrid system by the large gearbox manufacturer Allison. Although Allison's normal gearboxes are great, their attempt at doing a hybrid was terrible. These buses were very slow and rumbly.

Date: 2009
Max Speed: 30mph
Max Acceleration: 2 mph/second
System: Allison
Number in service: 0 (was 10)


Alexander Dennis Enviro 400H

This is the most common type of hybrid bus. These are very nice buses and have fast acceleration. These buses use the BAE diesel-electric hybrid system, and is by far the best hybrid system.

The BAE hybrid system is by far the best. This is a proper diesil electric system (engine generates the electricity, electric motors drive the wheels). What makes the BAE system stand out from its rivals is that it just works seemlessly and perfectly.

The 12 prototype Enviro 400Hs (2008)

In 2008, 12 prototypes were built, and are painted to advertise that they are hybrid. These buses turned out to be very reliable and this led to the Enviro 400H selling in their hundreds.

Two of them (ADH1 and ADH2) are ran by London United, Five of them (TEH915 - TEH919) are ran by Metroline on route 16 (Victoria - Cricklewood). And the other five (EH1 - EH5) are ran by Go-Ahead on route 24 (Pimlico - Hampstead Heath) until November 2012 when Go-Ahead lost the contract for the route. They now run on route ???

Date: 2008
Max Speed: 60mph
Max Acceleration: 4.5 mph/second
System: BAE
Number in service: 12


Enviro 200H (2009)

This is the single deck version of the Enviro 400H. These 5 buses (fleet HDE) were built in 2009 and run on route 371 (Kingston - Richmond).

Date: 2009
Max Speed: 50mph
Max Acceleration: 3.5 mph/second
System: BAE
Number in service: 5

(C) TGPhotos - (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Enviro 400H Production version (2010 - 2011)

From 2010 to 2011 loads of Enviro 400Hs have entered service. These don't have the nice paintwork, and only say hybrid in a small font.

Date: 2010 - 2011
Max Speed: 60mph
Max Acceleration: 4.5 mph/second
System: BAE
Number in service: LOADS

Enviro 400H improved version (2012 - 2014)

In 2012 the Enviro 400H was updated. There were many improvements with the hybrid system, and they make a slightly different sound. Also they now turn their engines off when not generating electricity.

Date: 2012 - 2014
Max Speed: 60mph
Max Acceleration: 4.5 mph/second
System: BAE
Number in service: LOADS

Boris's Bus

This is one of Boris's vanity projects. The 8 prototypes cost 10,000,000 (1,250,000 each). These are far more expensive than a normal hybrid bus which would cost 320,000! and a normal bus double-deck bus costs around 200,000. These are very snazzy futuristic buses, they are built by Wrightbus and use the Siemens Diesel-electric hybrid system (Very strange as mentioned earlier Wrightbus ditched Siemens).

These buses have been custom designed for London, they have 2 stair cases, and an open platform on the back like the old routemasters. There is one word that totally sums up every thing about these buses, BORIS.

In case you don't know, Boris is London's local nutter, who is playing at being mayor. He likes wasting tax payers money on big spectacular projects, which he likes doing as it creates publicity for him. But meanwhile he has cut many other things that are necessary but not spectacular (like the Croydon tram extension). Also, despite the fact he seems like a buffoon, he is currently proposing a very dangerous project, his airport in the Thames estuary (which would have devastating effects in an environmentally sensitive area).

The 8 prototypes (2011)

These are run by Arriva on the 38 route, but for some odd reason, only a couple seem to be in service at one time.

Date: late 2011
Max Speed: 40mph
Max Acceleration: 2.5 mph/second
System: Siemens
Number in service: 8

(C) Badudoy - (CC BY-SA 3.0)

(C) Andrew Davidson - (CC BY-SA 3.0)


The production buses (2013 - 2015)

Boris has now decided to buy 600 of these buses. These buses have poor acceleration. Despite the high development cost of the prototypes, 600 production buses of Boris's Bus are now being built! These cost 354,000 which is a reasonable price (Although at one point they were trying to claim that each bus costed 266,000). Also these buses have very slow acceleration and a poor top speed. Despite getting all the medias attention, these buses are nowhere near as good as the Enviro 400Hs.

Date: 2013 - 2014
Max Speed: 40mph
Max Acceleration: 2.5 mph/second
System: Siemens
Number in service: 600

Wrightbus series 2.5 (2014)

This was a major product launch by Wrightbus. This was originally meant to be Wrightbus's brand new styling for series 3, their all new bus. Wrightbus needed a new stunning bus design, especially with the all new Enviro 400 about to be launched. But after a year, Wrightbus realised that they hadn't got it right, and decided that these were actually not the full new design (and are actually series 2.5).

This is not the first time that Wrightbus have came out with a new design, with a new back, only to be superceded after a year with the same bus but with a new front as well. This is what happened in 2008/2009 with series 1.5 with the new series 2 back, but the series 2 front had not yet come out.

(History of Wrightbus: Old series: 1996 - 2007, Series 1: 2004 - 2009, Series 2: 2009 - 2014, Series 3: 2014 onwards).

The Wrightbus series 2.5 has very similar styling at the front to the series 2 but with the addition of LEDs below the headlights. But the major update is at the back with completly revamped styling.

And now we come on to the most major change, which is rather odd and controversial, which is that Wrightbus have gone against the unwritten rule since the double deck bus was invented and have made the bus out of proportion with the upstairs windows being smaller than the downstairs windows. (This isn't the first time wrightbus has done this, as Boris's buses have the upstairs windows smaller, but you don't notice it since Boris's buses look very unusual in the first place).

Despite this being Wrightbus's all new bus, it still uses the same old crappy Volvo hybrid system. And as for the interior, it doesn't look much different. These buses are not as good as I hoped, and Wrightbus also thought the same thing, as in 2015 the new design of Series 3 was launched (with new styling at the front), but we will come to this later in the guide.

Date: 2014
Max Speed: 55mph
Max Acceleration: 4 mph/second (but cuts out on gear-changes)
System: Volvo
Number in service: A couple of major routes use these buses

All New Enviro 400H BAE (late 2014 - 2016)

The all new Enviro 400 (which should have been called the Enviro 450) is a complete redesign of the Enviro 400.

It has complely new styling, and it looks great. Also, unlike a lot of London buses, it also looks great on the inside. Also it has been designed to be very easy for bus operators to maintain.

The new Enviro 400H BAE is totally awesome. It uses the updated BAE hybrid system, as used on the 2013 Enviro 400s, and ir runs very well. It has awesome acceleration, and is by far the fastest Euro 6 bus on the market. It accelerates to 30mph in just 10 seconds, with a peek acceleration of over 4mph/second. This is good for a normal bus, let alone a euro 6 bus.

The new Enviro 400H BAE is by far the best bus on the market. It is a series hybrid (the bus is only driven by the electric motor and the engine generates the electricity). These buses have started running on the 109 route from Croydon to Brixton.

Date: late 2014 - 2016
Max Speed: 60mph
Max Acceleration: 4.5 mph/second
System: BAE
Number in service: A couple of major routes

The Fake New Enviro (2015 - 2016)

Typical Stagecoach. They take something awesome and make it crap. Stagecoach love takeing the awesomeness out of epic buses (for example in the late 2000s they bought some original non hybrid Enviro 400s, but on a stupid Scania chassis).

And once again Stagecoach has ruined an epic bus. They have gone and bought the new Enviro 400, BUT THEY HAVE PUT IT ON A VOLVO B5LH CRAP HYBRID CHASSIS.

Who in their right mind would want to get the awesome new Enviro without BAE but instead with the horrid Volvo hybrid system with crap gearchanges.

Date: 2015 - 2016
Max Speed: 55
Max Acceleration: 4 mph/second (but cuts out on gear-changes)
System: Volvo
Number in service: Too many

Wrightbus series 3 (2015 - 2016)

After seeing the all new Enviro, Wrightbus decided that they needed to do better, so they updated the front of their series 3 design (with the original now called series 2.5). It still seems odd having a brand new design of bus replacing the new design just one year before.

Once again it has Volvo's stupid hybrid system. The gear changes are so sick making, total loss of power when changing but then fast 4 mph/sec when in gear, this is a very irritating motion. The gear changes feels like I am on a bus from the 60s.

Date: 2015 - 2016
Max Speed: 55mph
Max Acceleration: 4 mph/second (but cuts out on gear-changes)
System: Volvo
Number in service: A couple of major routes use these buses

Enviro City (late 2015 - 2016)

After seeing that Wrightbus had just re-updated their main bus, Alexander Dennis decided they needed to do the same! Just like with Wrightbus this is just one year after their last major product launch, the new Enviro City comes just a year after the all new Enviro was released. The rivalry is on between Alexander Dennis and Wrightbus, both redesigning their buses to out compete each other!

Alexander Dennis have copied some of the design from Boris's Bus on their new Enviro City. The Enviro city has a Boris style front window on the upper deck as well as having a window running along the staircase. As well as this Alexander Dennis have made weight saving improvements and redesigned headlights.

The Enviro City looks awesome and is by far the best new bus in London. It sounds identical to the regular new Enviro and is fast and efficent. It is by far the fastest Euro 6 bus in the UK, outperforming all other new buses.

Date: late 2015 - 2016
Max Speed: 60mph
Max Acceleration: 4.5 mph/second
System: BAE
Number in service: Being introduced

MCV EvoSeti Volvo crap (2016)

As well as all the new inovation, you still get the same old crap. The pathetic horrible nasty Volvo fake hybrid system is selling in its thousands. I have no idea why. It isn't a hybrid system, it is just an electric motor boost for a normal bus, except it isn't a normal bus as it has a stupid single clutch gearbox.

A new bus has been designed by MCV. It looks quite nice, although not as good as Wrightbus or AlexanderDennis. On the inside it is nicely designed with large windows. But there is nothing really that stands out about this bus.

Date: 2016
Max Speed: 55mph
Max Acceleration: 4 mph/second (but cuts out on gear-changes)
System: Volvo
Number in service: A couple of major routes use these buses


The winners of the Hybrid bus trails are the Enviro 400 H BAE and the Volvo B5LH ishit (on Wrightbus series 3 and MCV EvoSeti bodies). Every new double deck bus in London is now one of the two. Today almost every bus in zone 1 is now a hybrid, so the hybrid bus program has been very sucsessfull. Now there is a new challenge as TFL have started over again with the new electric bus trials. The aim is for all buses that enter zone 1 to be electric and all buses in the rest of London to be Hybrid.

So I guess this is now the end of the evolution of the hybrid bus. It was really fun seeing all the different types of bus during the trials and I am sad that it is over, but the electric trials are now on and are looking very interesting.

Further reading...

See the electric buses in London
See more of my bus guides
Find out the current location of a London bus
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