The new facility is the second bio-methane filling station to be opened by operator First West of England in the space of a year
Bristol will take a significant step towards tackling its transport emissions next weekend when bus operator First West of England opens a new bio-methane gas filling station at its Lawrence Hill depot.
The opening is the latest milestone in the operator’s ambitious bio-methane powered bus scheme, which is introducing 77 bio-methane buses onto roads in east and northern Bristol through the first half of this year.
Ten new buses hit the roads at the start of January on the firm’s metrobus m3 service. The next 27 buses will take to the streets in East Bristol from next week, replacing all city buses on routes 42 to 45, which locals will recognise as buses running along Church Road to St George and points east.
Bio-methane powered buses cut greenhouse gases by more than 85 per cent, research shows. The new gas filling station, which was built by Gas Bus Alliance at a cost of more than £2m, can dispense sufficient bio-methane to fuel up to 100 gas buses. The bio-methane is taken direct from the mains, negating the need for fuel delivery from road tankers, First West of England said.
The new facility will operate alongside an existing bio-methane station at the Bristol Community Transport depot, which opened last summer. The two sites mean a total of 99 buses will be running on bio-methane gas in the area by April 2020.
On top of their green credentials, the new buses feature a Scania chassis, USB charging points, and an additional wheelchair space.
“This second and larger-capacity facility is a crucial next stage in our bio-methane journey: it means we can roll out cleaner, greener vehicles and contribute substantially to help clean up the local air,” said James Freeman, First West of England Managing Director
“As we are now able to fuel more bio-methane powered gas vehicles than we currently have in our fleets, we are looking to open the facility up to other, third party commercial operations in the future. Indeed, we are already in negotiation with one organisation already. We’re really putting the West of England at the forefront of clean commercial fleets.”
Overall, First West England’s bio-methane scheme has involved an investment of £28m over three years. It is part-funded by a government grant of £4.79m under the Low Emission Bus Scheme (LEBS) through South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Councils.
Biomethane is a natural gas produced by breaking down organic materials such as food waste and manure. Bristol saw the launch of the UK’s first bio-bus in November 2014, fuelled by biomethane generated at sewage treatment works in Avonmouth, earning it the nickname ‘the poo bus’. Subsequently, as the number of bio gas-powered buses in the UK has grown, newer models such as those in Bristol rely on food waste to meet demand.