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November 7, 2017
Sustainable transport – will the bus kill or cure us?


You’ve no doubt heard the term sustainable transport – more prevalent than ever since we began learning the truth about the toxic air we breathe and the fatal consequences. I expect it turns your mind to thoughts of either emissions-free vehicles or cycling and walking. But what about the bus? Where does that fall when you’re sorting the wheat from the chaff of good and bad transport? Will the bus kill or cure us?

We now know that some motor manufacturers have been fudging their stats so cars looked dramatically less polluting than they really were (and we’re not out of the woods yet) helping to bring about today’s air quality emergency. I’m not going to lie to you, in the past buses have contributed to the poor quality of air as well. But that’s where the comparison ends.

For many years now – unlike cars – buses have been real-world tested. That means outside on the road in normal driving conditions. On top of that buses have seriously cleaned up their act. On top of that, we at Brighton & Hove Buses make this pledge to you:

We promise to make our fleet emissions-free as fast as new fuel infrastructure, bus technology and reasonable cost will allow us to deliver the frequent high-volume service needed in Brighton & Hove.

We’re on course for 82 highest standard nearly-emissions-free buses on the road by the end of this year. Just short of 90 per cent of our entire fleet is either LEZ standard, above or even better. And the rest of it will reach the LEZ standard one year ahead of the target set by the council. What’s more, we have 13 hybrid electric buses and 14 wholly electric vans.

It doesn’t stop there. We’re pushing major manufacturers to up their game on all aspects of sustainable bus design. We’re still testing electric buses and – at the same time – exploring the potential for hydrogen fuel cell buses.

I could go on, but I want to get back to this idea of sustainable transport. It’s not just that buses are far cleaner than you probably think, it’s the fact that one full bus takes 75 dirty cars off the road. Yes, you read that right. Mass transit will always be more sustainable than any other form of transport – even when comparing with fully electric cars because you can’t discount the huge amounts of extra carbon emitted into the atmosphere during the manufacturing process. And carbon overload – as we know – has been directly linked to climate change.

Mass transit will always be a greener way to travel as long as manufacturing emissions continue to damage our planet and blight our lives and we continue to need to move around within urban areas regularly and in great numbers. So next time you think of sustainable transport, don’t forget the bus. It will help us on that journey to a truly sustainable future.