HOCHBAHN has always been committed to conserving the environment and has been a partner to the City of Hamburg in environmental matters since 2007. The company does not see this partnership as an obligation. On the contrary, it is a challenge it is happy to fulfil, in which it assumes responsibility for the metropolitan area along with other well-known companies. It has made a substantial contribution towards climate protection by testing new propulsion technologies which can also be used on diesel-hybrid buses. The HOCHBAHN's first positive experience with a fuel cell bus was as early as 1999, when the NEBUS (New Electric Bus) was used in the city for a two-week pre-Christmas shuttle service.
Then, in 2003, Hamburg participated in the Europe-wide CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) development programme. Apart from Hamburg, nine other European cities also took part in the project; in each, three fuel cell-driven buses were used to test possible ways and means of using hydrogen as a source of energy for public transport.
The project had three basic aims:
- to establish hydrogen as an emission-free and environmentally friendly source of energy for public transport;
- to set up an infrastructure for hydrogen supplies;
- to test the practical operation of fuel cell-driven buses under different topographical, climatic and traffic conditions.
The second-test-phase started in 2006, with the European project HyFLEET:CUTE. This time, nine fuel cell buses were in operation in Hamburg up to July 2010.