Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Trials on BRT Hikoboshi Line

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Trials on BRT Hikoboshi Line bus rapid transit system in Japan.

First concrete initiative to increase commercial FC mobility options in local transportation.

Fukuoka Prefecture, Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corporation (CJPT), and Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) have entered an agreement to conduct trials of a small fuel cell electric bus (FC bus) that runs on hydrogen, an environmentally-friendly next-generation energy source, on the BRT Hikoboshi Line (officially “Hitahikosan Line BRT”), a bus rapid transit system planned for launch around the summer of 2023.

This initiative will be the first implementation of the partnership agreement between Fukuoka Prefecture and CJPT, entered into on December 26 last year, to expand commercial FC mobility and create a sustainable hydrogen society with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality. Fukuoka Prefecture and CJPT will work with JR Kyushu to hold the trials with a view to bringing FC mobility to local transportation.

With the cooperation of communities along the line, JR Kyushu is working toward the launch of the BRT Hikoboshi Line, which is under development based on the concept of being “kind to people, communities, and the future.” Expectations are that the trials of a next-generation small FC bus will further advance efforts toward regional development as an environmentally friendly transportation option.

Going forward, Fukuoka Prefecture, CJPT, and JR Kyushu will collaborate in preparing to launch the trial runs as follows.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Trials on BRT Hikoboshi Line
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Trials on BRT Hikoboshi Line

Overview of the initiative

Trial runs for the practical application of next-generation small FC buses that run on hydrogen energy.

Significance and aims of the trials

  • The trials aim to deepen awareness of hydrogen as a future energy source by using it to operate a local transportation system familiar to residents while achieving region-wide sustainable growth.
  • By verifying the feasibility of adopting FC mobility, the trials will increase the options for local transportation and help create a green transportation system.
  • While bringing the use of hydrogen to local transportation, the trials will lead to the development of areas along the Hitahikosan Line BRT.

Roles of each party

Fukuoka Prefecture: Overall coordination and support for improving the environment of the trial runs
CJPT: Development planning for the next-generation hydrogen bus and coordination of the trial vehicle
JR Kyushu: Operation of the trial vehicle on the BRT Hikoboshi Line.

Trial vehicle

Trial vehicle

Drawing on the image of hydrogen as an environmentally friendly energy, the trial vehicle is styled to reflect the blue skies prevalent along the route of the BRT Hikoboshi Line. The use of a pattern that depicts the flowing robes of Orihime―a name for star Vega and lover of Hikoboshi (the star Altair) from Japanese legend―creates a unified and original styling for all vehicles to operate on the BRT Hikoboshi Line.

Vehicle overview

Small FC bus 1 vehicle
FC bus based on the Toyota Coaster, 20-seater*1 with actual seating for 14 (planned).

Length x Width x Height 6,990 mm x 2,100 mm x 2,630 mm
Second-generation FC system from Mirai FCEV, with outstanding environmental performance of zero CO2 emissions during operation. FC mobility options are environmentally friendly vehicles that use a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, which does not generate CO2 emissions during use.

Trial period

Approximately fall 2023 to spring 2025 (planned).

Detailed information, including the start date and timetables of the trial to be conducted prior to the trial runs and the actual trial runs, will be announced at a later date.

About the partnership between Fukuoka Prefecture and CJPT

On December 26, 2022, Fukuoka Prefecture and CJPT entered a partnership agreement to expand commercial FC mobility and achieve a sustainable hydrogen society. The parties agreed to collaborate on implementing the following initiatives.

  • Planning and implementing the adoption of FC mobility for commercial and official government vehicles using FC trucks and passenger vehicles
  • Planning and implementing the adoption of FC mobility for regional transportation, etc.
  • Promotion of infrastructure development toward the use of heavy-duty FC mobility options on main arterial routes.

About the BRT Hikoboshi Line

Heavy rains across northern Kyushu in July 2017 caused damage in an area that included a stretch of about 40 kilometers of the JR Hitahikosan Line between Soeda Station (Soeda, Fukuoka Prefecture) and Yoake and Hita Stations (Hita, Oita Prefecture). The BRT Hikoboshi Line (bus rapid transit system) is planned to begin operation over this stretch in summer 2023.

Developed under the concept of “kind to people, communities, and the future,” the line will include public roads and a section of dedicated BRT road. The dedicated BRT road is currently under construction.