The first 27 of a planned 77 bio-methane-powered buses have taken to the streets in Bristol.
Owned by First West of England, the fuel for the buses comes from waste food and is supplied from anaerobic digesters across the UK.
According to the company, bio-methane gas offers more than 85% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to older diesel buses and helps to improve air quality. These new buses build on the legacy of the Bristol ‘Poo Bus’, which was run on the Number 2 route across Bristol while the City held the European Green Capital title in 2015.
First has also opened a major new gas filling station at its Lawrence Hill depot to help power the buses.
The station, designed and built by Gas Bus Alliance, represents an investment of more than £2m and took around nine months to build. It can provide 100% compressed bio-methane to fuel up to 100 gas buses. The bio-methane is taken direct from the mains, which provides another green benefit as there will be no fuel delivery from road tankers. The station can be easily extended to supply more buses as they are purchased, in due course
Operating in tandem with the existing bio-methane station in Parson Street, Bedminster, which opened last summer, the two sites mean a total of 99 buses will be running on bio-methane gas in the area by April 2020. Each fueling will keep a bus on the road for around 250 miles.
The total scheme has involved an investment of £28m over three years and was part-funded by a government grant of £4.79m under the Low Emission Bus Scheme (LEBS) through South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Councils.
Kerry McCarthy MP for East Bristol said: ‘Today’s announcement is a win/win for communities in the east of Bristol, and the city as a whole. With these new buses running on local routes, we can help improve air quality – and quality of travel for local residents.
‘It shows that taking steps to protect the environment needn’t come at a cost to passengers, with the new state-of-the-art bus fleet a real improvement on the diesel buses currently in service. I was pleased to get a preview when I visited the depot recently with Keir Starmer, and to speak to some of the drivers.’