Retrofit programme has made 1,000 buses cleaner

Driver Grahame Stott left, with engineering manager Kevin Farricker at the Oldham depot, where 33 buses have undergone the retrofit procedure

First Bus has announced that it has reached a significant milestone in its air quality retrofit programme, completing the refit of 1,000 buses across its UK operations with new exhaust systems and e-Fans to comply with Euro VI emission requirements.

The £16m retrofitting programme has been successfully delivered in partnership with the Joint Air Quality Unit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Transport (DfT), local authorities, Transport Scotland and suppliers Eminox, HJS and Grayson. This has involved significant financial investment and time commitment from First Bus and government departments.

The milestone has been completed in just over two years and the 1,000th bus was retrofitted in Manchester. Alongside scheduling challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, First Bus has worked hard to ensure that operations have continued with limited interruption to customers during the retrofitting programme.

John Dowie, First Bus strategy director, said: “We estimate that each retrofit reduces air pollutants and harmful emissions by up to 95%, and this makes a considerable positive impact to air quality for our towns and cities. Bus services will be a fundamental part of economic recovery as the UK starts to emerge from the pandemic.”

First has already commited to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035, and their pledge not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. In the past 12 months the operator has introduced several new bus models powered by diesel alternatives to their UK fleet. These include hydrogen-powered, bio-methane-fuelled, and electric buses. Retrofit investment is an important step which ensures the vehicles’ full lifecycles are utilised while reducing emissions. This helps support longer term clean air ambitions.

First Bus’s dedication to first class environmental performance has been bolstered further through the appointment of Jon Tivey as head of environment. Tivey joins the operator with wide-ranging experience of managing environmental programmes, having previously advised the Olympics and Gatwick Airport. He will focus on supporting the operator’s ambitions to deliver best-in-class environmental performance across all areas of its business, working in collaboration with key internal and external stakeholders.

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