Stagecoach tests gas bus in Liverpool

29 September 2011  •  Source: Stagecoach

Stagecoach, one of the UK’s biggest bus operators, has launched a six-week trial in Liverpool of a new hi-tech bus powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).

CNG-powered buses are used extensively in continental Europe, but this is the first trial of the MAN-manufactured vehicle in the UK.

The 12-metre single-decker EcoCity bus has an engine that is quieter than traditional diesel-engined vehicles and also has significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than standard buses.

The bus can also run on biomethane, which is already used as a fuel by Stagecoach as part of a project in Lincoln, England.

The low-floor bus, which is right-hand drive for the UK market, is expected to meet the new Euro 6 engine emissions standards, which come into force on 1 January 2014.

While CNG fuelling infrastructure in the UK is in its infancy, there is no need for large stocks of fuel to be managed and stored in a bus depot, because gas is drawn from the national grid as required.

Stagecoach is already the UK’s leading investor in greener hybrid electric buses and the evaluation of the gas bus is part of the company’s wide-ranging commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Sam Greer, Stagecoach UK Bus Regional Director, said: “We are looking forward to testing the performance of the gas bus in Liverpool over the next six weeks. This will allow us to compare its fuel consumption and operating costs against other types of vehicles in our fleet. We continue to look at a variety of technologies to help reduce our carbon footprint and offer greener, smarter and better value transport to our customers.”

Stagecoach has a comprehensive sustainability strategy and is investing £11million in a range of measures to meet its environmental targets. The Group is targeting an overall reduction of 8% in buildings CO2 emissions and a cut of 3% in annual fleet transport CO2e emissions by 2014.

The Group’s UK Bus division has launched a number of initiatives in the past 12 months alone to improve the environmental performance of its 8,100-vehicle bus fleet and associated depots, including:

  • mixing its own biofuel on site using a new bio-blender installed at its Kilmarnock depot. The initiative, the first by a UK bus company, allows around 100 buses in the west of Scotland to operate on up to 40% biofuel.
  • launching a fleet of 11 buses in Lincoln that operate on biomethane, derived from household rubbish and animal waste. It could reduce carbon emissions by up to 40% as well as cutting fuel consumption.
  • placing orders for 142 hybrid electric buses, which deliver a 30% reduction in carbon emissions compared to standard vehicles.
  • a multi-million-pound investment in a hi-tech eco-driving system, which is expected to reduce fuel consumption at its bus division by 4%. The scheme also offers employees the chance to earn “green points” that are converted into financial benefits from a potential £900,000 annual bonus pot.
  • the launch of a £500,000 project to fit new, greener engines in some buses to prolong the life of the vehicles.
  • trialling a new ‘intelligent’ lighting system – which uses movement sensors to determine the amount of light required – at six bus depots across the UK.

MAN has already supplied more than 7,000 CNG buses that now operate throughout the world. Fleets of MAN buses are already running on biomethane in both Sweden and the Netherlands.

Tony Griffiths, of MAN Truck and Bus UK Ltd, said: “We’re thrilled to have a major operator such as Stagecoach running these very important initial UK trials. MAN gas-engine technology has been well-proven throughout the rest of the world, and we are confident it can contribute a significant reduction in costs and emissions – both central to the future of passenger transport and the UK environment.”

Last year, Stagecoach Group was awarded the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard after taking action on climate change by measuring and reducing its carbon emissions. It covers all of the Group’s bus and rail operations in the UK.

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