This summer Nottingham City Transport (NCT) unveiled the first of its new fleet of biogas double-decker buses which it is rolling out over the course of a year.
At the time of the launch, NCT engineering director Gary Mason said: “This is the largest order for gas double-decks in the world and is the culmination of our extensive research into alternative fuels.
“When biomethane is used, emissions are 84% lower than their diesel counterparts, thereby making them – from ‘well to wheel’ – the greenest buses on the road.”
Investment in the fleet totals £17m, with £4.4m of this funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles which it secured last year. Since then, it worked closely with manufacturers Scania and Alexander Dennis, as well as local firms Roadgas and ZF Transmissions, to create biogas infrastructure at its Parliament Street garage in the city centre.
The investment in biogas buses supports Nottingham’s aim to be the greenest and cleanest city in the UK. It has an existing fleet of electric buses operated by Nottingham Community Transport and a tram system that it claims results in the city having the UK’s lowest emission public transport network.
Nottingham’s investment is set against a backdrop of government targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 and the need to improve air quality locally by 2020.
Making the buses
There are two parts to the build of the new buses. The chassis and engine are assembled in Lancashire (using kits from Scania in Sweden) then the rest of the bus is built and assembled in Scotland at the Alexander Dennis factory in Falkirk.
NCT says biogas is a slightly cheaper fuel than diesel, but its biogas buses cost more to manufacture. The savings on the fuel are therefore being offset against the cost of the buses and the stations to fuel them.
NCT worked closely with Roadgas to design and build the Gas Station on Parliament Street. Its supplier produces the biogas through anaerobic digestion and injects it into the national gas grid at the nearest point to production. NCT then draws out an equivalent volume of gas from the nearest national gas grid point to its Parliament Street garage, where it is compressed and stored until the bus is fuelled up each night. The Gas Station has been futureproofed so that it can be expanded and allow for the introduction of more gas buses.
Buses for the future
The new bus fleet also boasts free Wi-Fi, USB charging points for mobile phones, a glass staircase for a brighter interior, high quality seats for a more comfortable journey, quieter engines for a smoother ride and audio announcements to help users find their stop.