The UK’s first low emission ‘human poo bus’ will begin regular passenger service in Bristol next week (March 25) as part of a trial to assess how well biomethane-powered vehicles cope with the demands of city-wide operation.
The Bio-Bus is fuelled by human waste and inedible food waste from 32,674 households in the local area, which is converted into biomethane gas at a site in nearby Avonmouth operated by renewable energy and recycling firm GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.
Bus operator First West of England said it will “look to possibly bring more Bio-Buses into operation in future” depending on the success of the trial and public reaction to the bus.
However, with the Bio-Bus currently filling up with biomethane in Avonmouth, First said if the trial was successful it would need to overcome the “challenge” of fuelling the buses within its depot facilities in Bristol.
According to First, the Bio-Bus – which can seat up to 40 people with space for one wheelchair – helps to improve urban air quality “as it produces fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines”.
For the duration of the trial all the households along the route used by the Bio-Bus (Service 2) will indirectly help to fuel it. These households have their waste processed at Bristol sewage treatment works at Avonmouth.
Over the course of each month, it is thought that each household along the route of Service 2 would contribute enough waste to fuel the Bio-Bus for 10.5km (6.5miles). The route of Service 2 is around 15 miles in each direction, meaning it would take each household around two months to produce enough waste to fuel an end-to-end journey on it.
Collectively though, all the households along the route could produce enough waste over the course of a year to run the Bio-Bus for 4.1million kilometres (2.5 million miles).
James Freeman, managing director of First West of England said: “Since its original unveiling last year the Bio-Bus has generated worldwide attention and so it’s our great privilege to bring it to the city, to operate – quite rightly – on Service 2.
“The Bio-Bus previously made an appearance running between Bath and Bristol Airport at the end of last year, but its only actually been used once before in the centre of Bristol itself.
He added: “From 25 March we’ll be running the Bio-Bus on a set schedule for four days a week.
“The very fact that it’s running in the city should help to open up a serious debate about how buses are best fuelled, and what is good for the environment. In this Bristol Green Capital year that conversation is more welcome than ever.”