New bio-methane gas bus filling station opens in Bristol
As part of its ongoing commitment to improving air quality and tackling the Climate Emergency, First West of England today launched its 77 new bio-methane powered gas bus scheme, including a major new gas filling station at Lawrence Hill depot.
From the start of January, the first ten of the new buses came into operation on the metrobus m3 service, drawing fuel from the existing gas station opened last year at the Parson Street premises of Bristol Community Transport but they will be using the brand-new gas fueling station at Lawrence Hill depot when it comes into use next week-end.
The next 27 buses will take to the streets in East Bristol from next week, launching a brand new citylines east Bristol identity and replacing all city buses currently running along Church Road to St George and points east - routes 42 to 45.
The new buses feature Scania chassis and bodies built in Britain by Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL) and will reduce emissions by 85% and give customers a much-improved on-board experience, smooth and quiet with modern, comfortable interiors, featuring USB charging points and a second wheelchair space on each bus.
The new gas filling station, designed and built by Gas Bus Alliance, represents an investment of more than £2million 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 £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 Councils.
James Freeman, First West of England Managing Director, said: “This second and larger-capacity facility is a crucial next stage in our bio-methane journey: it means we can roll out cleaner, greener vehicles and contribute substantially to help clean up the local air. As we are now able to fuel more bio-methane powered gas vehicles than we currently have in our fleets, we are looking to open the facility up to other, third party commercial operations in the future. Indeed, we are already in negotiation with one organisation already. We’re really putting the West of England at the forefront of clean commercial fleets.
“Meanwhile, I am also delighted that we have been able to deploy this next batch of buses – forty in all on routes in the East of the city and into South Gloucestershire, bringing the very latest equipment to many thousands of our customers each week from next week.”
The bio-methane 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. 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, as is well known, was run on the Number 2 route across Bristol while the City held the European Green Capital title in 2015.
The way this scheme works is that GBA remotely injects bio-methane into the National Grid network replacing the energy equivalent volume of Natural Gas which is of course a fossil fuel. It is the premium bio-methane that First buys for its buses.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “It’s fantastic to see even more biogas buses getting out and about and the infrastructure to support them. These brand new, low emission buses not only make customers’ journeys better, but also dramatically improve air quality and cut carbon emissions compared to diesel buses. They support my ambition to improve public transport and give people more sustainable ways to travel to keep our region moving.
“We’re already seeing more than 100,000 passenger journeys being made by metrobus every week, with the latest passenger survey showing that it has taken 19,000 car journeys off the road. I want to build on that success with more services and better connections as part of my wider objective of getting more people to switch to using public transport across the West of England.”
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “We welcome this significant investment in new, cleaner buses and infrastructure as part of our drive to reduce air pollution and achieve carbon neutrality.
“As we plan how we transform Bristol's transport, through modernising the network, launching the bus deal and mass transit, we want to encourage partners to take these important steps to make Bristol better for everyone. “
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.
“Investment in the new biogas station is also a positive step forward, putting East Bristol at the forefront of efforts to make Bristol a cleaner, greener city. There is still a long way to go, but investments like this will make a real difference.”