It was as much a part of London as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace: the AEC Routemaster. From the mid-1950s, the red double-decker bus shaped the London cityscape and the image of the British metropolis in the world for half a century. Although there was a diesel-electric successor in 2012 under the then Mayor Boris Johnson with the "New Bus for London", the new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stopped this double-decker as early as 2016. The new man at City Hall judged it to be inefficient.
Like all mayors of major cities, Khan was under great pressure on several occasions: London's city center in particular is threatened by a permanent traffic jam caused by private transport, emissions are rising and people's health and quality of life are declining. In addition, the legislator is imposing increasingly stringent environmental protection requirements. A new, future-oriented traffic concept was needed. Khan presented it in 2018. And it bears the simple name "Mayor's Transport Strategy". On more than 300 pages the strategy describes how the Mayor wants to gradually transform London's entire delivery traffic, individual transport and public transport. The aim is to keep London mobile, healthy and livable. This is important because the city's population is expected to grow from 8.7 million today to an estimated 10.8 million in 2041.
Passenger transportation by buses plays a central role in this future plan with regular interim inspections. Coordinated by the municipal authority "Transport for London" (TfL), it is mainly private companies that operate public bus transport in the capital. Today, a fleet of 9,300 buses serves a network with 675 routes. Every day, passengers in London make almost 27 million trips. The all-inclusive price for a single trip is a cheap 1.5 British pounds, whether the trip is only one stop long or goes from one end of the city to the other. However, cheap ticket prices and bus.
Just as important is the use of low-emission and zero-emission buses. In a multi-stage plan, Mayor Sadiq Khan wants to achieve that by 2037 at the latest, public buses in the entire TfL area will no longer produce emissions. Khan is relying on hydrogen buses and battery electric buses. Introducing new electric double-decker buses last autumn, Gareth Powell, TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport said: "It is the latest green technology, like electric double decks, that will help tackle the air quality crisis. These new buses mark a major moment on the road to a fully zero-emission fleet. "
Currently there are more than 200 E-buses in London - the largest fleet in Europe. London fleet operator Tower Transit has just ordered 37 double-decker electric buses of the type "Metrodecker EV" from the English vehicle manufacturer Optare. They are driven by ZF’s AxTrax AVE electric portal axle, which is used in more than 2,200 E-buses worldwide. The compact E-axle with its two 125-kilowatt wheel hub motors harmonizes with battery and overhead line power supply as well as with fuel cell and hybrid solutions.
Since last summer, 31 Metrodecker EVs with AxTrax AVE have been running at London fleet operator Metroline. In the meantime, this bus is not only available with battery electric drive, but also with fuel cell. "Central London has one of the world’s strictest regimes for regulating emissions. The multiple contracts awarded by the city, demonstrate that AxTrax AVE is a technology which allows our customer Optare to meet the most demanding standards for clean and attractive local public transportation”, says Andreas Moser, Head of Commercial Vehicle Technology division.
In addition to the AxTrax AVE electric portal axle, which is particularly well suited for use in low-floor buses, ZF now offers another electric drive solution for commercial vehicles such as buses or distribution trucks: CeTrax. Volume production of the CeTrax electric central drive with an output of 300 kilowatts will start in the third quarter of this year. The advantage of this solution: CeTrax can be easily installed in vehicles with conventional driveline layout. This makes the central drive suitable for new vehicles as well as for retrofitting existing platforms.
The first CeTrax customer is Polish bus manufacturer Solaris. Solaris will equip its new 15-meter-long pure E-bus "Urbino 15 LE electric" for city and intercity use with ZF's central drive. Further customer start-ups are being prepared. Regarding the significance of the latest E-innovation, Dr. Andreas Grossl, responsible for Axle and Transmission Systems for Buses and Coaches at ZF, says: "CeTrax is another building block on the way to emission-free public transport, which ZF supports to the best of its ability."