Radical new technologies will improve the environment and have a dramatic impact on public health

Greener Journeys
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  • New cleaner, low emission Euro VI buses emit 95% less harmful nitrogen oxides than Euro V
  • Stringent real-world testing regime means Low Emission Buses key to cutting pollution in cities

A NEW generation of buses is dramatically improving emissions and lowering health risks across the UK thanks to advanced technologies and stringent real-world testing, according to a new report published today.

Unlike car engines that are solely tested in controlled laboratory conditions, the engines in the latest fleet of Euro VI buses are required to be environmentally assessed while driving on the road following demanding laboratory testing.

Rigorous emissions testing has evolved since first introduced for buses in 1996, resulting in continuous improvements which the car industry has struggled to match.

In addition to the EU’s Euro standards, the latest Low Emission Buses in the UK undergo an extra real world cycle test based on bus operation. Details of these tests – which assess the emissions generated while producing the fuel as well as those released via the exhaust pipe – are found in a new report launched today at the UK Bus Summit by the sustainable transport group Greener Journeys.

With buses historically contributing up to a third of nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution in areas with heavy traffic, and more in some parts of London, the new technology is already having a major impact. Over half of all new buses and coaches registered in 2015 meet the latest Euro VI emissions standard[1].

According to the report, The Journey of the Green Bus, produced by the LowCVP, the newest Euro VI Low Emission Buses emit around 44 times less NOx than London’s iconic original Routemasters which were finally retired in 2005[2]. This means that if the entire current fleet of London buses were Euro VI standard, it would collectively emit the same amount of pollution as just 200 of the original Routemasters.

Following grants and initiatives, such as the Bus Service Operators’ Grant Low Carbon Emission Bus (LCEB) Incentive and the Green Bus Fund, there are now almost 3,500 LCEBs currently operating in the UK.

This includes more than 2,000 diesel hybrids, 782 micro-hybrids which use energy produced during braking to power electrical systems, and 19 so-called “flywheel hybrids”, which use a non-electric energy storage system developed in Formula One.

Plug-in hybrids are being trialled in London and Bristol while there are 111 battery electric buses operating in the UK. A recent European study calculated that one electric bus can remove the equivalent tailpipe emissions from a city as 100 electric cars.

Some buses employ more radical technologies, including using biomethane – a renewable natural gas derived from decomposing organic waste – and hydrogen fuel cells to reduce emissions.

The European Environment Agency has estimated that PM2.5 concentrations were responsible for around 432,000 premature deaths in 2012, and approximately 75,000 premature deaths as a result of long-term exposure to NO2[3]. Though much has been achieved to date, 38 of the 43 UK air quality zones still exceed targets for air pollution, with at least five zones facing a major challenge in meeting them by the legal deadlines.

Dr Keith Prowse, honorary adviser to the British Lung Foundation, has described air pollution as having “the greatest impact on people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, worsening symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness” [4].

The report was commissioned by Greener Journeys. Claire Haigh, its Chief Executive, will be speaking at the UK Bus Summit, alongside Andrew Jones MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, George Ferguson CBE, Mayor of Bristol and leading figures from across the transport sector.

You can view the report here.

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, commented:

“This report demonstrates that real-world testing is the best way to measure a vehicle’s impact on the environment – a crucial step to reducing roadside pollution and tackling a major public health risk. For many years the bus industry has set the gold standard for emissions testing, and the result is a fleet of leaner, greener buses which are among the cleanest vehicles on the UK’s roads.”

Andy Eastlake, Managing Director of the LowCVP, commented:

“The bus industry working together, has come a long way since the first emissions test for buses was developed in 1996. Now the new buses coming on to the road are much greener and cleaner; making a significant contribution to cutting carbon emissions and playing a vital part in cleaning the air in our most polluted towns and cities.”

[1] http://www.smmt.co.uk/2016/01/uk-bus-sector-sees-threefold-rise-in-new-low-emission-vehicles/

[2] http://www.lowcvp.org.uk/assets/reports/Journey%20of%20the%20Green%20Bus%20(FINAL).pdf

[3] http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/air-quality-in-europe-2015#tab-data-references

[4] https://www.blf.org.uk/News/Detail/Health-warning-as-high-levels-of-pollution-hit-UK

Notes to Editors

UK Bus Summit

The second annual UK Bus Summit will take place on 11 February 2015 from 8.00am-4.45pm at QEII Centre, Broad Sanctuary Westminster, London SW1P 3EE (020 7798 4000).

Once again supported by the Department for Transport, it aims to bring together operators, local authorities and the bus supply industry to encourage the industry to work together to stimulate passenger growth, and to raise awareness of the role the bus can play in stimulating the economy, getting people to work, reducing emissions, providing access to the elderly and tackling inequality.

Entry for media is free. More details can be found here.

Summary of the report

  • Road transport is the main source of many air pollutants which impact local air quality in the UK. These include benzene, 1,3-butadiene, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates (PM10/2.5).
  • Air pollution has a negative effect on public health, both short and long-term. Fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide have been identified as having particularly detrimental impacts to people, adding to the risk of heart and lung disease and lowering life expectancy.
  • Automotive manufacturers must meet European Emission Standards for all new vehicles. The latest – Euro VI – standard for buses was introduced in 2014. It encourages the use of advanced new technologies such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel particulate filters (DPFs) which are already delivering real benefits in fuel efficiency and emissions for fleets across the UK.
  • The LowCVP devised a definition of a Low Carbon Emission Bus as one producing 30% less well-to wheel greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions than a normal Euro III diesel bus in 2008. The greenhouse gas emissions covered were methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. This served as a performance target for different low carbon bus technologies and fuels and as the bar for qualification for the Government’s fiscal incentives.
  • Fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide have been identified as having particularly detrimental impacts to people, adding to the risk of heart and lung disease and lowering life expectancy. Exposure to small particulate matter (PM2.5) was implicated in 29,000 early deaths around the UK according to research by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) in 2010. The COMEAP will be analysing the effects of NO2 but currently no timetable has been released for this research.
  • On behalf of OLEV and the DfT, the LowCVP revised the definition of a Low Carbon Emission Bus to take into account the dual goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and improving local air quality in 2015. A Low Emission Bus is defined as “a bus which can achieve a reduction of more than 15% well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions compared with a Euro V diesel bus, and achieve the Euro VI engine standard”.
  • The LEB accreditation scheme entails a new bus test cycle; the LowCVP UK Bus Test Cycle, measuring both greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions. Another difference from the earlier (2009) Low Carbon Emission Bus scheme, is that technologies that can demonstrate zero emission capability – i.e. travel at least 2.5 km of a route without emitting any emissions – can benefit from top-up funding.
  • The UK’s 88,683 buses and coaches deliver 5.2 billion passenger journeys amounting to 18.1 billion miles each year. The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for more than £95 billion turnover and £15.5 billion value added.
  • Today a wide suite of technologies and fuels exist for buses that offer clean and low carbon solutions and foster the growth of Low Emission Buses in the UK. They include hybrid, battery electric, biomethane, and hydrogen fuel cell.
  • The latest Euro VI buses deliver a 95% reduction in NOx compared with Euro V.

About Greener Journeys

Greener Journeys is a campaign dedicated to encouraging people to make more sustainable travel choices. It aims to reduce CO2 emissions from transport by encouraging people to switch some of their car journeys to bus or coach instead. Switching from car to bus for just one journey a month would mean one billion fewer car journeys on our roads and would save 2 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Greener Journeys is a coalition of Britain’s leading bus companies and other supporters including Transport for London, Transport Focus, Campaign for Better Transport, the RAC Foundation, Transport for the North, and the Confederation for Passenger Transport (CPT).  Its primary funders are Arriva, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead, and Stagecoach.

About the LowCVP

The LowCVP was established in 2003 as a public-private partnership working to accelerate a sustainable shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and create opportunities for UK business. Around 200 organisations are engaged from diverse backgrounds including automotive and fuel supply chains, vehicle users, academics, environment groups and others.” For more information visit www.lowcvp.org.uk

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