You might have heard that the pollution levels in London’s Oxford Street exceeded their annual target for 2016 in the first four days of the year. And now with news that a car manufacturer has been forced to admit fiddling their fuel economy tests, you might be forgiven for thinking the age of diesel is coming to an end.
But don’t lump the bus industry in with car manufacturers – it’s not just our environmental credentials that are a million miles away but our practices too.
Unlike car manufacturers, our buses go under real-world testing – that means they’re analysed on the roads not just in the lab. We go as far as sticking sand bags onto seats to replicate the weight of a bus with passengers on board. The industry’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership said it better than anyone: “the [UK] bus sector’s achievement in terms of the rate of innovation of low emission technology has been unmatched by any other vehicle sector in recent years”.
Then there are our state of the art buses. Our Euro 6 buses reduce particulate matter by around 95 per cent compared to that of the Euro 5. That’s a huge reduction. Not only this, but the Euro 5 bus had already reduced emissions on earlier models by half.
We’ve invested heavily to reduce our environmental footprint. Very soon our fleet will be 85 per cent Euro 5 or better buses. We’re so ahead of the game, we’ll have hit the low emission zone target set by the council for North Street a whole year ahead of deadline.
Now let’s look more closely at the case for diesel. Here in B&H, we meet and frequently exceed stringent environmental standards. We use selective catalytic reduction technology and diesel particulate filters to ensure our bus emissions are as clean as possible. It’s these very diesel particulate filters that are being tampered with by car garages in London, making emissions more polluting and giving diesel fuel a bad name.
But being a bus operator in today’s world, isn’t about driving ahead minding our own business. We’re part and parcel of the infrastructure of our city and see ourselves as a custodian in an integrated transport system that gets Brighton and Hove and its residents to where they need to be.
As such, we encourage people to use a range of alternatives to the car: to get on their bikes, participate in car clubs, to park and ride, to hop on the bus, and of course, to walk. And we encourage you to help us to make these choices as attractive as possible.
In the same spirit we embrace electric power. We’ve already got 13 hybrid buses which run on both diesel and electric power. We’re also watching closely the work of our sister company, piloting the use of fully-electric double deck buses to meet the heavy passenger and traffic demands of London. But that’s the future. As for today, diesel buses are taking us where we need to be geographically and environmentally – more than most people appreciate.
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