No new diesel-only buses will be bought for Bus Éireann’s urban fleet, the company chief executive Stephen Kent has said, as the company highlighted the role it could play in cutting carbon emissions.*
Outlining Bus Éireann’s contribution to the Government’s climate action goals , Mr Kent said up to 12.6 million car journeys are avoided every year by passengers choosing Bus Éireann services.
In addition, 21.5 million more journeys were avoided annually due to the school transport scheme, said Mr Kent, who argued that Bus Éireann was making a significant contribution to reducing road congestion.
Mr Kent said by 2025, some 50 per cent of its urban fleet would be low to zero emission vehicles and 30 per cent would be zero emissions, under its current plans.
But Mr Kent said the State-owned company planned to do more if the Government follows through on commitments in the National Development Plan to provide new buses.
In addition, he said, “there are no diesel buses being purchased at all now by the National Transport Authority, going into any regional city”. He said 40 hybrid diesel electric buses were “going into Galway” using 30 per cent less fuel, while Athlone town buses would be “fully electric by 2022”.
A framework order for 800 double-deck electric buses is expected to be awarded in the third quarter of 2021 with vehicles coming into operation in 2023.
In terms of long distance, regional or expressway buses, he said hydrogen buses were being “piloted right now”. Hydrogen fuel was “exciting”, he said, as it offered a speedier refuelling time than electricity.
He said the NTA’s procurement framework covering Bus Connects in regional cities and regional services already contained orders for 280 hybrid electric buses, with 89 buses now in service in Galway and Dublin. An initial order of 45 electric, single-deck buses has been placed for operation in Athlone and Dublin.
“If we are going to be chasing emissions reduction, Bus Éireann is a major part of the solution,” he said.
Mr Kent was speaking as the company published a report from consultants KPMG that found the company already removes more carbon emissions than it creates, through offering an alternative to the private car.
The study, the first overview of the company’s economic, environmental and social impact, found Bus Éireann supports 2,700 direct and 6,100 indirect jobs and has an economic impact assessed at almost €270 million, with two-thirds of its gross gross value arising outside Dublin. The study also found that Bus Éireann services generated up to €1 billion in “intangible” benefits including bringing workers to jobs and social activity.
Nearly half of Bus Éireann passengers surveyed said they relied on services as their only travel option, and 83 per cent agreed Bus Éireann provided an essential service to them and their family.
Seventeen million trips are to work, 19 million for social or leisure purposes and seven million for third-level education. Four million Bus Éireann trips a year bring people to healthcare, and the company has 1,130 bus stops within two kilometres of hospitals.
*This article was amended on October 27th, 2021