UK’s green bus transition could deliver £248m by 2020

Low-Carbon Emissions Buses (LCEBs) could deliver more than £248m in social benefits to the UK by 2020 and reduce transport emissions by 432,000 tonnes, after a new report outlined the benefits that current green fleets are demonstrating.

A report published by the LowCVP for Greener Journeys revealed that the current 3,760 LCEBs operating in UK towns and cities had saved 55,000 tonnes in emissions annually and delivered £8m in health and environmental benefits.

The report highlighted that 40% of new buses sold in 205 were LCEB certified, and if this proportion were to reach 100% by 2020 annual emissions savings would be the equivalent of removing 92,000 cars from the roads for a year.

LowCVP’s managing director Andy Eastlake said: “The UK’s bus sector has made great progress in introducing low emission, efficient technologies over the last decade. This has been in large part due to the support of government and the commitment of industry and other stakeholders to work together and drive change.

“This support and commitment needs to continue if the sector is to make a necessary contribution to cutting CO2 emissions, as well as to the increasingly urgent task of reducing pollution in our most badly affected towns and cities at least sufficient to meet 2020 air quality targets.”

Currently, 38 out of the 43 UK zones are breaching European clean air targets, and the report suggests that LCEBs could generate £248.5m in social benefits associated with cleaner air alongside reduced greenhouse gas emissions. 

According to the report, Stagecoach’s fleet of 4,581 biodiesel buses has cut emissions of the company’s overall fleet by 25%, while Go-Ahead Group’s 600 hybrid buses located in London have reduced emissions by 16%, with a further 10% reduction possible by 2018.

Scotland’s legacy of welcoming hydrogen-powered vehicles has also paid dividends, after 10 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles contracted by First Group and Stagecoach in Aberdeen saved around 145,000 litres of diesel.

The report also noted that there had been a “dramatic improvement” in traditional diesel engines. The latest Euro VI engines – which represents more than half of all new models purchased in 2015 – are delivering a 95% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions compared to previous models.

Bus schedule

Earlier this year, the Department for Transport pledged £7m in funding to fit nearly 450 buses with technology that will cut emissions by up to 90%. The Clean Bus Technology Fund 2015 is being awarded to 18 local authorities across England.

From next February, Putney High Street – which regularly breaches diesel pollution limits – will be the first route to exclusively use hybrid or diesel buses equipped with anti-pollutant systems that meet or exceed Euro VI emission standards. A second low-emission bus zone will then be between Brixton and Streatham in October 2017. These low-emission zones are expected to reduce bus NOx emissions by 84%.

In an exclusive interview with edie, the president of Volvo Buses said the UK is well-placed to champion the electrification of public transport, and revealed that his company is partnering with one of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient infrastructure, Siemens, to promote engagement with the transition.

Matt Mace

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