A report by the LowCVP has found that clean buses are saving 55,000 tonnes of emissions per year and delivering 8 million in health and environmental benefits.
The A Green Bus for Every Journey report, published by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) and commissioned by sustainable travel group Greener Journeys, explores how new buses are using technology to reduce emissions.
According to the LowCVP, there are currently 3,760 certified Low Carbon Emission Buses (LCEBs) operating in towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales, making up 40% of new buses sold last year.
The report claims that if this proportion were to reach 100% of all new buses by 2020, annual savings could increase to 432,000 tonnes of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions the equivalent of taking 92,000 cars off the road for a year and 248.5 million in wider social benefits.
The study notes the dramatic improvement in conventional diesel engines, with the latest Euro VI models over half of all new models bought in 2015 delivering a 95% reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides compared with the previous Euro V models.
LowCVP highlights the role of greener transport in helping cities meet European clean air targets, which are currently being breached in 38 out of 43 UK zones. The variety of green buses now available, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, electrified ancillary, hydrogen fuel cell and biomethane models, is allowing operators across the country to find the most tailored option for their network.
Some schemes that have adopted green buses include Go-Ahead Groups 600 hybrid buses in London, which have helped lower emissions by 16%, while Lothian Buses has saved 1.4 million in fuel costs since 2011 with its fleet of 85 hybrid buses. Stagecoach, which operates 4,581 biodiesel buses, says the technology has cut the carbon dioxide emissions of its overall fleet by a quarter.
Andy Eastlake, managing director of the LowCVP said: The UKs 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.
Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: Tackling transport emissions is one of the most pressing issues facing councils and operators today, and this report clearly shows that investing in clean buses is an integral part of the solution.
Encouraging more people to switch their car for the bus is crucial to tackling the UKs emissions problem, and thanks to the new range of clean bus technologies available, this type of behaviour change is now more effective than ever.
The LowCVP is a public-private, not-for-profit partnership encouraging a sustainable shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and opportunities for UK businesses. It is mainly funded by the Department for Transport.