State bodies to buy 200 more diesel buses before ban comes into force

National Transport Authority has two more deliveries of buses in pipeline

The NTA’s plans to purchase a further 200 diesel buses “epitomise the lack of real action on climate change”, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said. Photograph: Alan Betson

The NTA’s plans to purchase a further 200 diesel buses “epitomise the lack of real action on climate change”, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Two hundred diesel buses are to be bought by State transport bodies before next July’s ban announced yesterday by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe comes into force.

“As set out in the national development plan, Ireland will no longer purchase diesel-only buses for the urban public service obligation fleets after July 2019,” the Minister told the Dáil.

However, the National Transport Authority (NTA) confirmed it has two more deliveries in the pipeline and will then assess what technologies to pursue afterwards.

Last week it emerged that the Department of Transport is to test a variety of “green” buses on Irish urban routes from next month.

Unveiling his budget measures, Mr Donohoe said he would introduce a capital scheme to encourage the use of gas-propelled commercial vehicles “as an economic and environmentally friendly alternative to diesel”.

“The Green Public Transport Fund was established to support the uptake of low carbon, energy efficient technologies within the public transport sector and as set out in the National Development Plan, Ireland will no longer purchase diesel-only buses for the urban public service obligation (PSO) bus fleets after July 2019,” he said.

Procurement in progress

However, shortly after his speech, the NTA confirmed it still has about 200 more fully diesel vehicles on the way with procurement in progress.

They are due to be delivered in two tranches this year and next year, a rate broadly in keeping with the estimated 100 buses per year required to service both Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann stock.

“If we have more and better and more reliable public transport vehicles we can get more people out of their cars,” an NTA spokesman said.

“We are moving as quickly as we can; we are very mindful of our environmental responsibilities.”

Once those buses are in place, the NTA will examine its options for alternative technologies and design a new procurement approach.

Last week, the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action heard that transport-related carbon emissions were likely to rise in the coming years rather than fall, a spin-off effect of a growing economy.

While public transport accounts for just 5 per cent of overall transport emissions, the Climate Change Advisory Council has already warned that the country is falling far short of its carbon reduction targets and cannot meet those set for 2020.

‘Lack of real action’

The NTA’s plans to purchase a further 200 diesel buses “epitomise the lack of real action on climate change”, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said.

A vocal critic of Government progress and a member of the Climate Action Committee, Mr Ryan said there are cities in China that are now utilising thousands of electric alternatives.

“What price do you put on being seen as a clean green city?” he asked.

A forthcoming test of environmentally friendlier buses in Dublin and Cork next month will help inform the NTA’s future policy.

Fully electric, diesel-electric hybrids and compressed natural gas technologies will be trialled over a 14 week period.