Bio-methane buses rolled out across Bristol

First West of England is launching a fleet of 77 bio-methane powered buses in Bristol, drawing fuel derived from food waste from a new gas filling station at the company’s Lawrence Hill depot.

Bristol's new bio-methane buses

The first ten of the new buses came into operation from the start of January, serving the metrobus m3 route, awarded to First West of England back in October 2017, with the next 27 set to be introduced to East Bristol from next week.

The £2-million gas filling station, designed and built by Gas Bus Alliance, will come into use next weekend (15-16 February), operating in tandem with the existing bio-methane station in Parson Street, Bedminster, which opened last summer. The two bio-methane filling sites will mean that 99 buses will be running on bio-methane gas by April 2020.

First West of England claims that the bio-methane gas, which is supplied from food waste treated at anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities across the UK, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 per cent compared to older diesel buses.

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

The new buses come as part of a £28-million three year investment, 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, commented: “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."

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles added: “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."

Tony Griffiths from the Gas Bus Alliance said: “Our partnership with First West of England on this project has been very successful and it has resulted in one of the biggest bio-methane filling stations in the country to date. Alongside the existing Parson Street gas filling station, Bristol now has the capacity to power over 200 vehicles with 100 per cent Bio-methane, ensuring the population of the area enjoys the benefits of a healthy and sustainable environment.”

Biogas such as bio-methane could play a crucial role in the fight against climate change, with the World Biogas Association (WBA) declaring that the biogas sector has the potential to deliver a 12 per cent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, issuing a series of recommendations for governments and businesses to support the industry.

The UK Government’s plans to introduce mandatory separate food waste collections could prove significant in unlocking the industry’s potential, as increased collections will mean that more food waste will become available for AD facilities. 

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