Buses are getting greener and cleaner

Neil Wallis
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Greener Journeys is playing a vital role in encouraging people to travel more frequently by bus. Reducing the number of cars on the road and replacing them with buses can help cut congestion and – especially when buses run at high occupancy – carbon emissions.

It’s important, though, that the buses used run on the cleanest, low carbon technology to ensure that the environmental benefits are maximised. The good news is that over the last few years the number of ‘greener’ buses on Britain’s roads has been increasing rapidly, to the extent that the UK is now one of the European leaders in the adoption of low carbon bus technology.

There are now over 1250 low carbon buses in operation in the UK, the largest share in London (nearly 500) but with 200+ in Manchester and around 50 or more in Liverpool, Reading and Oxford.

Progress in the adoption of low carbon buses has been driven by the Government’s Green Bus Fund (now in its fourth funding round), which the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership helped to design, in collaboration with the Department for Transport.

Most of the buses introduced under the Green Bus Fund are using highly efficient diesel-electric hybrid technology, but there are also a number showcasing pure electric and gas technology. (London and Milton Keynes are currently carrying out trials on inductive charging for electric buses.) The buses have been manufactured by ADL, Wrightbus, Optare, MAN, Scania and Volvo.

The LowCVP will shortly be launching a ‘Low Carbon Bus Roadmap’, based on a study to identify the most cost-effective options for the introduction of low carbon technology for buses. The report shows that a number of innovative technologies can cut bus carbon emissions and save fuel, and provide a short-term payback at current fuel prices and subsidy levels.

The report looked at a range of technology solutions including mild, full and flywheel-assisted hybrids, fuel cells and alternative fuels including electricity, biomethane, natural gas and liquid biofuels. A range of ‘smart ancillaries’ and innovative technology solutions for engines and associated equipment – including lightweighting and low rolling resistance tyres – were also investigated and the findings will be revealed when the report is published.

To find out more about the Partnership and to take part in the discussions about cutting carbon from buses, why not consider joining the LowCVP. More details here.

The LowCVP’s Annual Conference, to be held in Central London on July 11 will focus on the implications of the introduction of new fuel and product technologies as carbon emissions move ‘Beyond the Tailpipe’. More details here.

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