Following the Journey of the Green Bus

Innovation and supportive policy over the last decade has transformed the bus sector from being a part of the problem of poor urban air quality to being an important part of the solution to tackling climate change. Government Business analyses the LowCVP report on the issue.

Buses have historically contributed up to a third of nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution in areas experiencing heavy traffic (more than a third in parts of London). However, over the last few years, an array of greener, cleaner buses have arrived on UK roads. Air pollution caused by vehicles is not a new issue, although its prominence has risen considerably in the last two years or so. Road transport is the main source of many air pollutants which impact local air quality – with NOx and particulates (PM) of growing concern. Such pollution negatively effects basic health, as well as adding to the risk of heart and lung disease, and lowering life expectancy.

Following the news of successful bids for an estimated £7 million of Department for Transport (DfT) funding in January this year, 439 buses in England will be fitted with green technology to cut harmful emissions by up to 90 per cent. The Clean Bus Technology Fund 2015 will be awarded to 18 local authorities across England, enabling 439 buses with technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in pollution hotspots.

The move, which will significantly improve air quality in town and city centres with the upgraded buses, is set to complete more than one million greener journeys annually. The Clean Bus Technology Fund is a core part of the government’s commitment to green transport which has seen £2 billion worth of measures introduced since 2011. The move will also add to the government’s £600 million investment in low-emission technology over the next five years, which aims to make almost every car and van zero emissions by 2050.

One area benefiting from green bus technology is Bristol, which has launched two state-of-the-art, low emission electric buses in partnership with the DfT, Bristol City Council and the University of West of England (UWE). The new vehicles run in areas of low air quality and use Geo-Fencing GPS technology to run on pure electric mode, producing zero emissions. There are only five of such vehicles in the UK, with two in Bristol and three in London also on a trial basis.

The buses run quietly and can be recognised by their striking blue colour and ‘electricity’ branding. Furthermore, the buses can charge once they reach their terminus, UWE’s French Campus, via a special plate in the ground which enables them to charge wirelessly.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This adds to Bristol’s growing reputation as a laboratory for change and an environmental innovator. These clean tech vehicles will help to reduce pollution and improve the health of the city, and are part of the continuing impact of our highly successful year as European Green Capital 2015.

“My goal is for Bristol to be one of the healthiest cities in the world and that has to start with us breathing clean air. I am confident this trial of new technology will pave the way for the future of electric buses in Bristol and beyond, adding to the many new sustainable transport initiatives that are currently taking place across the city.”

The Green Bus report
Maintaining our ability to move around in ever more congested towns and cities is more critical today than ever before. While a wide range of transport options now exist, there’s no doubt that an effective bus operation can deliver one of the best solutions to the challenges of air quality, climate change, congestion, convenience and, of course, cost. Bus travel has evolved with the development of the green buses of today. The Journey of the Green Bus explains how the last 20 years have transformed the emissions, efficiency and experience of buses.

Commissioned by Greener Journeys, the LowCVP report, The Journey of the Green Bus describes how innovation and supportive policy over the last decade has transformed the bus sector from being a part of the problem to being an important part of the solution to poor urban air quality, as well as contributing to tackling climate change.

A Low Emission Bus is defined as a vehicle which can achieve a reduction of more than 15 per cent well-to‑wheel greenhouse gas emissions compared with a Euro V diesel bus, as well as the Euro VI HD engine standard for pollutant emissions. With latest research by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showing that at least five regions in the UK are still facing an immense challenge in meeting European air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), this report is a welcome aid for the sector.

A new generation of buses is dramatically improving emissions and lowering health risks thanks to advancing technologies and stringent real-world testing. While there is much more to be done, the arrival and expansion of the green bus is making, and will continue to make, a vital contribution to improving air quality in the UK.

Further Information

Supplier Profiles