With the recent announcement of the UK Clean Air Proposal, emissions are a hot topic amongst car and fleet owners alike. A lot of questions have already been asked about Cars, LCVs and HGVs, but what impact is legislation likely to have on the Bus and Coach industry.

How bad are buses and coaches?

Most people would consider public transport to be a cleaner alternative to driving. Those people would be correct if buses and coaches were filled with enough passengers. However, a bus filled with only 2 or 3 passengers on a traffic filled road is a far worse polluter than your average car.

Most old models of bus are diesel models – which featured prominently in the ‘Diesel-Gate’ and ‘Dirty Diesel’ scandals in recent years. Busy roads packed with half-empty diesel buses sees higher levels of pollution than two or three buses packed with passengers – unfortunately for commuters.

Why do they need to change?

Diesel buses and coaches produce large amounts of both CO2 and NOX emissions, both of which are reaching dangerous levels in urban areas around the UK. In an attempt to cut down on dangerous levels of gas in major cities, several European countries, UK included, have introduced legislation to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles and enforce stricter regulations on ‘dirty’ vehicles entering urban areas.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have announced that we will see the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) , which will see high penalties for heavily polluting vehicles. Vehicles will likely need to be tested for efficiency and safety before the introduction of these CAZ zones.

What are the Alternatives?

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has already announced his plans to bring the UK to the front of electric and hydrogen bus travel. With major developments being made in plug-in and gas vehicles, it is likely that we will start to see major changes in vehicles rolled out in the next 10-20 years.

Modern London buses have already been introduced with the Enviro400 and new Route-Master Hybrid bus. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Buses are already being trialled in Reading and Electric buses are being trialled throughout the UK. Retrofitting options are available but financially a poor investment to make, as fleets will have to be replaced eventually. Both CNG and Electric Alternatives are proven to significantly reduce both costs and pollution in urban areas – although questions still hang over the offset of pollution and infrastructure required for electric vehicles.

The alternative to busy routes is being answered by start-up tech companies in a few cities in the UK. Apps like Zeelo and Sn-Ap provide networks of coaches on demand to provide direct travel from A to B. Not only does this cut down the number of empty vehicles on roads, but prevents winding routes with multiple unnecessary stops. Planned routing and the combination of fleet tracking can help to significantly reduce both time and mileage, reducing pollution.

Telematics systems are a great way to improve the efficiency rating of vehicles. Vehicle Telematics is the use of technology to monitor driving performance data, track vehicles and see vehicle maintenance alerts remotely via an operator’s computer. By Introducing telematics systems, fleet operators can get significantly more miles out of a vehicle, and reduce time on the road.

In Summary

There is certainly going to be big pressure on bus and coach operators to cut down emissions, both in the UK and in Europe. This is likely to affect not only bus and coach operators but coach tours across Europe too. Further to this, fleet operators in the industry are under pressure to improve the overall safety and security of their vehicles. Although this might mean investing, the long-term benefits are likely to be invaluable. 

For more information on our fleet management, tracking and telematics solutions click here or call 0208 391 8360.