Bio-buses could be deployed on Bristol's Metrobus network

The low-emission bus scheme being developed in Bristol, MetroBus, has awarded an initial route to FirstGroup who have announced they will consider using buses running on bio-methane.

The soon-to-be-completed MetroBus project, which started back in 2006, has announced that FirstGroup will operate the route between Ashton Vale and Temple Meads.

First Group has been operating a bio-methane double decker in Bristol since August to trial the new buses. It claims the greenhouse gas emissions produced are 84 per cent than those produced by Euro 5 class diesel engines (European standards on diesel engines introduced in 2009) and lower than many modern Euro 6 class diesel cars (introduced in 2014).  

Bio-buses could be deployed on Bristol's MetroBus network

Commenting on the announcement, a FirstBus spokesperson said: “First is confirmed as the MetroBus operator for the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads service. As our pathfinder biogas bus shows, we are looking into bio-methane made from food waste as a possible fuel source for services in Bristol, including possibly on the MetroBus network.”

The new MetroBus routes have been designed to reduce pollution and speed up journey times, connecting Bristol’s outlying areas using segregated bus lanes.

The operator of each route can decide the type of bus to be used, but MetroBus contracts state that the vehicles used on its routes should be low-emission or hybrid vehicles.

A MetroBus added: “Bio-methane is good for the environment as it captures the methane gas that would normally be produced by our waste as it naturally decays. Methane is around twenty times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

“Also, capturing bio-methane from our own waste doesn’t cause damage to the local environment like the extraction of fossil fuels and keeps our waste out of landfill sites.”

Bristol was something of a trailblazer in bio-methane public transport after local company GENco trialled the UK’s first ‘poo-bus’, which runs on human waste, in Bristol in 2015 during its year as European Green Capital. 

GENco, the renewable energy arm of Wessex Water, provided bio-methane gas to the First West of England bus company from a site in Avonmouth, where sewage and food waste was turned into the fuel.

However, a bid for funding by FirstGroup and rival operator Wessex Bus to run the ‘poo-buses’ on a route permanently was rejected by central government in 2016.