Bus Éireann targets 30% passenger growth in sustainability plan

Firm indicates intention to cut emissions in half by 2030 as part of a wide-ranging plan

Bus Éireann is targeting at least 30 per cent growth in bus passenger numbers and a reduction of 50 per cent in gas emissions by 2030 as part of its new sustainability strategy.

Bus Éireann employs 2,700 people, operates 1,100 vehicles, and facilitated 89 million passenger trips in 2019 across 82 million kilometres.

The plan, which encompasses targets for climate, waste, cities and communities, education, equality and safe work, is targeting 116 million passengers a year. However, the company said it was too early to tell how much the plan will cost to implement.

Other initiatives include an energy-efficiency programme, sustainable procurement strategy and a new waste management plan with the aim of reducing waste by 50 per cent over the next nine years, with 75 per cent of all waste recycled.


The company said it is intending to have five times as many female supervisors, as well as a full gender balance at board level.

“We are very conscious that in setting these targets, we are committing Bus Éireann to very positive but profound transformation,” said chief executive Stephen Kent.

“The customer experience is the fleet, and we will move from having 1,100 diesel-fuelled buses and coaches on the road, to half of those being zero emission in the next nine years, to align with and enable the plans outlined by Government.

"This year, funded by the National Transport Authority, we will deploy 61 hybrid buses, beginning in Galway, three hydrogen-fuelled buses for Dublin commuter routes and the tender is live to source battery electric vehicles for the Athlone town service."

He said these changes would positively affect not just emissions, but also air quality in urban areas.

“The factors to enable this change are perhaps less visible but mean enormous adaptation within the company,” he continued. “We are assessing the implications for the locations and power supplies of all of our depots.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology is nascent in Ireland and its development must also be factored in.” Bus Éireann operated the first trial of a hydrogen bus in public service in Ireland last year and hydrogen has many advantages for longer-distance routes.

Mr Kent said all Bus Éireann vehicles use the same fuel and rely on the internal combustion engine for power.

Ministerial reaction

The company has 300 staff whose qualifications and expertise are in maintaining diesel engines. “Training programmes are being devised to support their change to working on electric-powered vehicles,” he said.

“From our customer perspective, we want to make bus travel the first choice especially for people living in towns and cities.

“Right now, bus and coach travel is inherently more sustainable as it emits up to one-fifth the carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre, compared to private cars.

“We will invest in our stations and provide a service that is 100 per cent fully accessible and 100 per cent emissions free. This is an exciting prospect and a huge incentive for everyone to think bus ahead of car in the coming years.”

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said he was impressed with the plans. "Our bus services play an essential role in connecting our communities," he said. "I'm impressed by the ambition laid out in Bus Éireann's new strategy and fully support their plans.

“Better and more frequent services will benefit public transport users and provide an attractive alternative to those frequently travelling by car.

“This strategy will also help us meet our climate commitments; achieving a 50 per cent electric-powered bus fleet by 2030, and increasing the number of people who choose public transport, will help us transform how we travel in Ireland.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter