As part of its ongoing commitment to improving air quality and tackling the Climate Emergency, First West of England has unveiled its latest biomethane powered gas buses which form part of an overall £28 million investment across the region.
It means that since the start of January, First West of England has introduced 77 biomethane powered gas buses on routes across Bristol and the West of England region, which cut greenhouse gases by 85%.
The three newest biomethane gas buses will now join service 73 and give customers travelling on this route, between Bristol Temple Meads and Cribbs Causeway a much-improved on-board experience, with modern, comfortable interiors, featuring USB charging points and a second wheelchair space on each bus. The new buses are painted bright green, so are readily identifiable.
This launch comes as First Bus in the UK has announced its long-term goal to reach zero emissions by 2035, with the biomethane powered gas buses playing a critical role in this 15-year journey and in supporting the decarbonisation of the West of England.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “These new, low emission buses make customers’ journeys cleaner, greener and more comfortable. They also help dramatically improve air quality, cut carbon emissions and reduce congestion by getting cars off the road and helping us respond to the climate emergency.
“I’m pleased to see First setting a long-term goal to have zero emissions by 2035 and would like to encourage the company to bring new technologies to the West of England first so we can meet my goal of a net zero region by 2030. I’m determined to get our region moving and make sure the West of England leads the country on using new technology to improve our public transport and give people more sustainable ways to travel. This is another step towards delivering on that promise.”
The scheme has resulted in a new gas filling station being introduced at the Lawrence Hill depot, which was designed and built by Gas Bus Alliance. Operating in tandem with the existing biomethane station in Parson Street, Bedminster, which opened last summer to run the m1 metrobuses, the two sites mean a total of 99 buses now run on biomethane gas in the area, with each fuelling giving a range of 250 miles.
As technology in electric and hydrogen fuel advances, First West of England plan to use continued investment in biomethane buses to make the eventual transition from current diesel vehicles to zero emission fuels of the future, with the possibility that the gas infrastructure can be converted to other fuels like hydrogen as these develop.
James Freeman, Managing Director at First West of England, said: “This, we hope, is just the beginning of our journey ultimately to bring us to zero-emission bus travel in the region. These buses are already carbon neutral.
“Over the last three years our investment has brought the West of England to the forefront of cleaner and greener bus travel. As the current technology stands, biomethane vehicles are some of the most carbon-efficient modes of powering buses particularly suited to the terrain in this part of the country. The fuel is made from food waste, and these buses cut greenhouse gases by an impressive 85%.
“As transport technology continues to advance over the next decade and a half, our ongoing investment in biomethane buses will bridge the critical gap between the current diesel vehicles and the fuels of the future, such as hydrogen, which will ultimately enable us to reach our long-term, carbon zero emission target of 2035.”
The total biomethane bus scheme has involved an investment of £28 million over three years and was part-funded by a government grant of £4.79 million under the Low Emission Bus Scheme (LEBS) through South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Council.
The biomethane gas that fuels the buses is provided by the Gas Bus Alliance (GBA). It comes from waste food and is supplied from anaerobic digesters across the UK. Biomethane gas offers more than 85% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to older diesel buses and helps to improve air quality.