Local bus operator, Stagecoach North East, is launching a £7.2million fleet of hybrid electric buses in Newcastle.
The investment in the 26 new buses followed an award of £2.2million from the Government’s Green Bus Fund, with Stagecoach North East funding the balance of £5millon. The award from the Green Bus Fund was announced in October last year and was the largest successful bid outside London.
The 26 new Enviro400H Euro 5 buses will enter service shortly on the 39/40 routes, covering key local areas including Wallsend, Walker, Byker, the City Centre, West Road, Chapel House and Dumpling Hall.
John Conroy, Managing Director of Stagecoach North East, said: “Sustainable transport solutions are at the heart of our business and this investment in new, greener technology is part of a wider drive across Stagecoach North East to make our business and services even more environmentally friendly.
“The launch of our new hybrid buses in the city is exciting and fantastic news for public transport and for the region and its local communities. By introducing the hybrid buses we will reduce our carbon emissions on these routes by 30 per cent and the resulting redistribution of vehicles in our fleet will also bring benefits to many other services across the region.
“Combined with the introduction of 14 Enviro 400 Euro 5 buses on Service 12 in March this brings our 2011 investment in our Newcastle fleet to over £7m; we believe strongly in partnership as a mechanism to deliver high quality sustainable public transport and we look forward to working with Newcastle City Council and the Integrated Transport Authority as we seek to build on our successes to date.”
Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, adds: “As the UK’s most sustainable city, we are at the forefront of promoting and delivering the low carbon agenda and we recognise that the benefits of hybrid engine technology extend beyond those than can be measured purely in terms of fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. This new fleet of buses will have a significant role to play in the social and economic success of the city and they are an important resource for residents, commuters and visitors.
“The city council will actively support these services by introducing an environmental zone and air quality management area in a central location and stepping up enforcement measures to improve reliability. We continue to work with partners to seek funding for further major investment in key routes in the city as we strive to remain at the forefront of innovation in transport and energy.”
Investment in greener buses is part of Stagecoach Group’s sustainability strategy to reduce further the carbon emissions from its transport operations in the UK and North America. Backed by an £11million investment programme, the Group is targeting an overall reduction of 8 per cent in buildings CO2e emissions and a cut of 3 per cent in annual fleet transport CO2e emissions by April 2014.
Stagecoach Group is also working with other major public transport groups in the UK on a major campaign to encourage people to make less use of cars and switch to sustainable bus and coach travel instead. The Greener Journeys campaign is targeting one billion fewer car journeys over the next three years. The target could be achieved by switching one in 25 journeys by car to bus and coach, delivering a huge reduction in carbon emissions.