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Brighton & Hove firm to investigate bus emissions

Coach company teams up with consultancy Ricardo to establish true emissions of city bus fleet and help improve air quality

A Brighton-based coach company is researching the level of emissions on a range of buses operating in a modern commercial transport fleet.

The Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company, part of the Go-Ahead Group, is working with Ricardo and test equipment specialist HORIBA to establish the ‘true emissions’ of industry and road vehicles in the urban environment.

A Brighton & Hove bus, a regular sight in Brighton city centre, passes the Royal Pavilion

A Brighton & Hove bus, a regular sight in Brighton city centre, passes the Royal Pavilion

The coach firm itself operates an estimated 280 modern buses on local services in the city and its surrounding area, with all its more recent vehicles fitted with exhaust particulate traps.

But, while exhaust emissions of most new vehicles in the UK are tested over regulatory drive cycles during the development phase, little information exists as to their emissions when used in service.

To address this, the partnership has started using portable emissions monitoring systems (PEMS) testing equipment. Provided by HORIBA, the selection of the coach firm’s fleet has been temporarily fitted with the device in order to record ‘real life’ fuel efficiency across a day-to-day service.

Vehicles selected represent a cross-section of the fleet, from the oldest which conform to Euro III level emission regulations, up to Euro V-compliant conventional and hybrid buses.

In each case, the vehicle operates on a standard service route via the city centre during the test – which captures a range of driving conditions and gradients.

The buses will still stop frequently, but passengers will not be permitted to travel on the test vehicles for health and safety reasons, which the firm ensures will not affect the regular timetable.

And, in order that the absence of passengers does not influence the results, each bus under test will be ballasted so as to replicate approximately a typical 25% capacity passenger load.

Statistics

The investigation follows Department for Transport statistics, which show Brighton & Hove currently boasts the highest number of bus journeys per head of population outside London.

Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company managing director Martin Harris said: “Urban air quality is an issue of concern in many towns and cities, and Brighton & Hove is keen to work with Ricardo in better understanding emissions performance from a range of buses under operating conditions. We continue to invest in the environmental performance of our fleet and are supporting the council’s plans for a Low Emissions Zone in the centre of the city.â€?

Ricardo’s manager of after treatment and chemical analyses Jon Andersson added: “We hope that this work will provide some valuable insights into the emissions of buses in Brighton & Hove, and that this information that will be of use in optimizing operations to promote good local air quality.â€?

Earlier this month, Brighton & Hove councillors proposed a low emissions zone imposing restructions on buses operating in central Brighton from 2015 (see airqualitynews story).

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