£5m for clean, green buses

The DfT has announced £5m worth of funding for 11 local authorities under its Clean Bus Technology Fund. The money is to enable almost 400 buses to be upgraded to help reduce pollution. The government department has already provided £5m of funding, match-funded by the Mayor of London, to fit 900 of the capital’s buses with exhaust after-treatment technology. The funding announced today is intended to allow local authorities in other parts of England to clean up their buses in similar ways, delivering matching benefits.

Funding was awarded based on five main criteria: whether bids fitted objectives of establishing the best technologies and developing the retrofit industry; air quality impact; value for money; deliverability, and whether they offered cross-cutting benefits such as encouraging economic growth. Local and transport authorities were free to consider a variety of ‘off-the-shelf’ technologies such as exhaust after-treatment, conversion to hybrid propulsion or cleaner low carbon fuels, or look to develop new technologies, providing they demonstrated the high likelihood of success in improving air quality. Winning schemes include a mix of proven technologies like SCR and new technologies such as hybrid flywheel, which are said to deliver up to a 20% reduction in fuel use and harmful emissions; gas engine replacement and other innovative modifications. Authorities are expected to work with the bus operators in taking their new projects forward and DfT will be following their progress.

Local Transport Minister, Norman Baker, said, ‘The funding we are providing will help clean up emissions from older buses in some of our most polluted urban areas, with all the health benefits that brings. This will lead to real improvements in air quality on some of our most polluted streets, as well as helping to stimulate jobs and growth in the bus and environmental technology industries. I look forward to seeing how these initiatives are taken forward, and to the delivery of real results very soon. I hope that other parts of the country will adopt similar measures in the near future. Improving air quality is important for the Coalition Government, as is economic growth. This scheme will benefit the environment as well as helping create and sustain jobs in British companies, allowing them to develop and market new clean technologies here and abroad.’

A CPT spokesperson said, ‘CPT has warmly welcomed the award of £5m in grants to 11 local authorities from DfT’s Clean Bus Technology Fund. This funding will be a real boost to enable the industry to continue to play its part in delivering significant reductions in pollution, as has already been seen from the similar initiative in London. We hope that DfT will be able to offer another round of bids for similar funding in the future so that the industry can continue to invest in new technology and play its part in contributing to the Government’s drive to reduce pollution and improve air quality.’

Environment Minister, Lord de Mauley, said, ‘This funding boost will bring real improvements to air quality around the country which is good news for the environment and our health. I am keen to embrace new technology and encourage local authorities to share their experience so that others can follow suit.’

West Yorkshire transport authority, Metro, is to receive the largest share of the funding. It has been awarded almost £999,957 to reduce emissions from its West Yorkshire fleet of Mybus yellow buses. As a result Selective Catalytic Reduction Technology (SCRT) to reduce NOx and PM emissions will be fitted to 119 yellow school buses, bringing the whole 150 bus fleet to the same standard. The vehicles will also be re-liveried to recognise their new green credentials made possible by the grant. Additionally, 61 of the vehicles that don’t already have the ‘GreenRoad’ Eco-driving system will be fitted with the technology. Metro will match the DfT funding to make a total of £2m and will carry out the work as part of a mid-life vehicle upgrade programme. This will also include some maintenance of the vehicles’ electrical systems. The Mybus programme provides daily services to over 200 schools in the county, which represents 2.4m passenger trips every academic year. Research has shown that an estimated 22% of these journeys were previously made by car.

Metro Chairman, Cllr James Lewis, said, ‘By reducing the numbers of parents driving their children to and from school, Metro’s Mybus scheme is already reducing emissions into the local environment. I am delighted that through this successful bid, we will be able to reduce this level even further. As well as making our yellow buses greener and cleaner, the measures included in the refurbishment package will also extend the vehicles’ working life and ensure they meet the latest emission standards in the long-term. This in turn increases the overall benefits of the Mybus scheme.’

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Richard Brown joins DfT board

Richard Brown CBE FCILT has been appointed as a non-executive member of the Department for Transport Board by Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. Chief Executive of Eurostar from August 2002 to April 2010 and Chairman until June this year, he was previously Commercial Director and a main Board Director of National Express Group plc, where he set up its UK Trains Division. He was the 2008/9 President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport and is currently its Rail Sector Ambassador.