The United Kingdom is looking to continue expanding the number of low carbon buses on the roads of that island nation. The national Department for Transport recently announced a fourth round of funding from its Green Bus Fund, this time to the tune of £12 million funding for 213 new low carbon buses. Of this, the city of London will be making use of £5m to help purchase four electric and 90 hybrid buses, growing what’s said to be Europe’s largest fleet of green buses.

London’s Transport for London (TfL) agency hopes to have more than 1,700 hybrid buses on the streets of the capital by 2016, which represents 20 percent of the city’s 8,500 total buses. Of these 1,700, 600 will include what’s described as New Bus for London vehicles, noted as being the greenest diesel electric hybrid bus in the world. It was found in recent emissions tests that a prototype of this bus, which had been in passenger service for eight months and that had driven more than 15,000 miles, was found to emit a quarter of the NOx and PM of a fleet average hybrid bus and 20 per cent less CO2.

image via Kevin Boyd/Flickr
image via Kevin Boyd/Flickr

As for zero emission buses in London, the four electric buses will be purchased with £360,000 from the grant, according to TfL. This purchase comes in addition to two electric buses being trialed later this year on existing routes. Joining these are “a number of zero emission hydrogen buses” currently operating on one route. It was noted of this route – RV1, between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway – that when eight buses are in passenger service, it will become the first zero emission bus route in Europe.

“London buses may be red on the outside but they are increasingly green on the inside,” said Mike Weston, London Buses Operations Director, in a statement. “The Capital is leading the way on the introduction and operation of green buses and this has been recognized again this year with further funding from the Green Bus Fund. We will continue to increase our hybrid bus fleet and will seek, where possible, to trial exciting developments in zero emission electric technology.”

Outside of London, Green Bus Fund funding, which pays up to “half the cost difference between low carbon diesel-hybrid and biomethane gas buses and their standard diesel equivalent,” is spread across England and includes Stagecoach and First Group. The local councils involved in the initiative include as well the City of York, Greater Manchester and Nottingham City. To date, around £87 million has “delivered more than 1200 new low carbon buses in England, saving around 28,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.”

“Buses are an essential part of people’s day-to-day lives up and down the country and are a key tool for enabling economic growth,” said Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.  “At the same time, we want this growth to be green, which is why we are investing in these brand new low carbon buses. I’m glad these new technologies are breaking through into the mainstream. This further strengthens the case for operators in the UK to invest in ultra low emission technologies and achieve a step change in cutting carbon.”

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