Saturday 17 August 2019

Bristol feeling flush as 'number two' bus fleet expands

The first human waste-powered bio-bus in service in Bristol
The first human waste-powered bio-bus in service in Bristol

Dozens of "number two" buses - powered entirely by poo - could be picking up passengers in Bristol next year.

Wessex Bus is hoping to run a 20-strong fleet in Bristol while rival operator First West of England is looking to bring 110 poo-powered double deckers to the city.

The announcements come after the UK's first bio-bus, powered by methane gas extracted from human waste, began services last year on the appropriately named No 2 route.

The poo bus technology was developed by waste energy company GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water, which is working in partnership with the Wessex Bus project.

Wessex Bus and GENeco and First West of England have submitted bids to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles for grants to support the schemes.

Under the Wessex Bus plan 10 bio-buses will be operating in Bristol next year and another 10 will be on the streets by 2019.

First West of England is working with South Gloucestershire, Bristol City, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset councils to bring 110 double decker bio-buses to Bristol.

If successful 40% of the operator's fleet would be low emission and would run on routes where there is lower air quality.

Antony Goozee, commercial director of Wessex Bus, said: "This is a great opportunity to increase the number of gas-powered buses on the streets of Bristol and surrounding area, which will significantly improve air quality.

"What's more, we believe this would be the most sustainably fuelled fleet in the UK, as it will be the only fleet where the buses are actually powered by treatment of sewage and inedible food waste from the local community."

The bid would see a refuelling station built at the sewage treatment works in Avonmouth.

Mohammed Saddiq, managing director of GENeco, said: "Our plans are for the buses to run in areas of Bristol and Bath that have the poorest air quality.

"It would significantly cut emissions harmful to human health and because the buses will run on gas from renewable sources, it means each gas bus would have an 80% less carbon footprint than a typical diesel bus."

Mr Saddiq said the bio-bus had attracted worldwide interest and become a focal point for visitors, overseas government officials and media who travelled to Bristol as it marked being European Green Capital 2015.

"While many passengers see the fun side of the bio-bus with its eye-catching livery, it's fair to say that people genuinely like to know that the bus is sustainably powered and better for the environment," he said.

"I am sure that if our bid is successful, people will be delighted to see a fleet of bio-buses in the city."

Jenny MacLeod, First West of England's general manager for Bristol, said: "If we are successful we will be leading the way in creating a fully sustainable public transport network that can really make a difference to people in and around Bristol.

"All 110 double decker bio-buses will operate in Bristol, representing almost half the fleet. It will revolutionise the entire public transport network in Bristol."

PA Media

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