BERLIN, July 18 (UPI) -- Every fifth bus in Berlin will be powered by hydrogen by 2009, according to officials from the city's mass transit company.
The state-owned BVG, which runs Berlin's bus and subway systems, will order some 250 hydrogen-powered buses, according to a report in Tuesday's Berliner Zeitung newspaper.
"We really want to pursue hydrogen technology," BVG head Thomas Necker told the daily.
Berlin would thus become the first European city with a significant proportion of emission-free buses. The company aims for a 2009 delivery date.
The BVG tested two hydrogen buses during the FIFA Soccer World Cup; they transported several thousand fans from the Tegel International Airport to the Olympic Stadium, where several games, including the final, were played.
"We showed that hydrogen-powered vehicles are reliable even under the tough conditions of an international mass event," said Thierry Pflimlin, head of Total Germany, the fuel company which produces the hydrogen.
A bus with a hydrogen motor costs roughly $450,000, or four times as much as a bus that runs on diesel fuel. The European Union will subsidize the additional costs, the newspaper said.