Visitors to Paris can now enjoy a trip through the City of Light in the world’s first gas-powered open top sightseeing bus. With Paris’ aim to be in the forefront of climate efforts, this offers a cleaner alternative.
Open Tour, a subsidiary of the publicly-owned RATP Group, operates 36 hop-on, hop off buses along three lines in the French capital, annually attracting some 700,000 passengers. Having already taken six battery electric buses into operation, Open Tour now complement its fleet with six gas buses.
“We wish to test several green technologies since we don’t know what the future regulations will be,” says Fabrice Bayon, Managing Director of Open Tour Paris. “By 2024, the entire Open Tour Paris fleet will be converted to clean energy. Together with the City of Paris, the Region and the French Environment & Energy Management Agency, we have for many years been committed to more sustainable mobility. With a third of our fleet already converted to clean energy, we’re proud to combine tourist attractiveness with respect for the environment.”
The double decker bus – bodybuilt by Spanish specialist UNVI – is equipped with five gas tanks for a total of 276 kilos of compressed gas, equal to 1,825 litres. That is sufficient of for a range of approximately 500 kilometres. “We only need to refuel every second to third day, which is important since we don’t have our own filling station and we thereby can save on driver time.”
The sightseeing buses make 4–5 inner-city trips per day – some 120 kilometres in total– before returning to the depot at Rosny-sous-Bois, just east of central Paris.
The 12-metre low entry bus adheres to the continental European maximum height of four metres with a passenger capacity of 70. To facilitate frequent boarding and deboarding at the 250 stops throughout Paris, the bus can kneel to 26 centimetres from the ground.
Along the route passengers are guided in 12 languages as well commentary for children in French, English and Spanish. “We expect a steady growth in tourism to Paris,” says Bayon. “One of our challenge is to attract ‘repeaters’ – customers who come back to Paris – and we have therefore now started offering enhanced, innovative and digital services along with bus travel.”