Uber Boat to run hybrid ferries on Thames

Passengers traveling along the Thames in London will soon have the opportunity to catch a ride on the UK’s first hybrid high-speed passenger ferries.

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, which reports running a river bus service that carried four million people in 2019, plans to launch the innovative boats in the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023.

Designed by One2three Naval Architects, the two boats (which will each have an overall length of 131 feet) will be built at Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight. The hybrid design will allow the new vessels to operate solely on battery power while transporting commuters and sightseers through the British capital between Tower and Battersea Power Station piers. 

Taking further steps to improve the sustainability of the entire operation, the vessels will recharge while using bio-fueled power outside central London. According to the company, the technology for the vessels is not reliant on shore-based charging. Instead, the new boats will operate on biofuel outside central London and the excess power from the bio-fueled engines will re-charge their batteries for operations when they enter central London and switch to the batteries.

They also report that the new boats push the boundaries in catamaran design to deliver a future-friendly option that can be made even greener as and when technology allows. As well as being the city’s most eco-friendly passenger boats, these will be Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ quietest vessels. Each vessel will have a maximum capacity of 231 passengers

“After the challenges of the last two years that Covid has set upon businesses, in particular in the transport sector, I’m extremely excited to be increasing our capacity to meet the demands of our customers and partners,” said Sean Collins, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ co-founder and CEO. “This development in technology has enabled us to take the first major steps to meet our future environmental vision.” 

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is committed to achieving net-zero with all new builds by 2025 and for its wider fleet, infrastructure, and environmental footprint by 2040. Collins said “We’re looking ahead with this hybrid design, ensuring easy conversion to green hydrogen or another renewable energy source. It is the next step in our strategy to net-zero and, ultimately, tailpipe zero.”

The company started service in 1999 and today reports to have the largest fleet on the Thames. They operate 20 vessels providing service currently from 23 piers along the river and will expand service with one additional pier in the spring of 2022. In August 2020, Thames Clippers entered into a partnership with Uber and became known as Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.

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