England: Tea, Big Ben, bowler hats and red buses. One of those things is about be be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century.

It's the famous red double-decker bus of course, much as we'd like to see today's young people going about their business in bowler hats rather than baseball caps.

Thanks to Volvo, London's fleet of red buses is gaining a hybrid drivetrain to mitigate inner-city pollution levels from the traditional diesel engines. Curbs alongside bus stops in London have been blackened by the daily bus traffic ejecting soot onto the road and into the air. As with any big city millions of people commute from one place to another every day, and buses such as the 66-passenger Volvo supplement the thousands of black cabs and the famous Underground subway service.

Volvo doesn't just make cars, it has a highly-respected commercial vehicle arm too, and the company says the new hybrid bus allows fuel savings of 34 percent over the older buses. Emissions are reduced by 50 percent, thanks in part to the hybrid system turning off the engine every time the bus stops.

The system is called I-SAM and uses an electric motor for propulsion, starting and as a generator. The extra power provided means Volvo can use a 5-liter diesel engine rather than the 9-liters of a non-hybrid variant.

The UK's fleet of distinctive red buses takes Volvo's worldwide tally of orders to over 300, with Spain, Finland, Norway, Mexico, Germany and Brazil also using the 7700 Hybrid series. It's going down well with the passengers too, who prefer using the bus to the underground and appreciate the effort to go green.

We don't normally cover commercial vehicles on Green Car Reports, but it's always worth remembering that cars aren't the only vehicles that use our roads, and improvements in mass transit can be beneficial to us all.

And with that, we think a cup of tea is in order...


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