The social enterprise company are also investing £7 million in a fleet of 21 biogas buses for the Metrobus route. The buses are carbon neutral and run on gas generated from food waste.
The operators for the first three Metrobus routes have now been announced. The m2 and m3 routes will be operated directly by First West of England.
BCT already runs four bus routes for Bristol City Council and also provides low-cost, accessible minibuses for community groups, sports clubs and charities. They run Bristol’s dial-a-ride service and community buses for older and disabled people, helping them to access shops and healthcare, social activities and family occasions. 120,000 people traveled on their Bristol services in 2017.
Dai Powell, Chief Executive of HCT Group is really excited by MetroBus, “We’re delighted to be a part of it. We think it’s going to make a real difference to people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. By providing a significant upgrade to the transport network, Metrobus creates a real opportunity to get people out of their cars and onto public transport – with all the environmental benefits that brings for people and planet.”
“As a social enterprise, we don’t have shareholders and exist for community benefit. That means we will reinvest the money we make from Metrobus into services for elderly and disabled people in the local area, which we hope will go some way towards meeting the increasing needs of these groups.”
James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England is looking forward to working in contract with BCT as operator of the m1. “This is a really innovative operating model. We believe that this is the first time in England that operators have been contracted to each other in the interests of keeping things simple for the travelling public.”
Dai Powell added, “We’ve begun preparatory work on the necessary gas infrastructure and orders have already been placed to manufacture vehicles. As soon as the refuelling station is ready, the vehicles are delivered and the iPoints are all installed, we’re ready to operate the m1 service.”
With brand new iPoint ticket machines at every stop, Metrobus is the only place outside London to operate a buy-before-you-board service. Studies have shown that boarding times are up to 75 per cent quicker when passengers buy their ticket before boarding the bus, allowing the bus to spend less time waiting at bus stops and more time on the move.
The buses on our m1 route will be fuelled by biogas. The biogas is generated from food peelings or manure which is put into a machine which uses bacteria to break it down and turn it into gas. The gas is then purified and fed into the National Gas Grid as biomethane. Because methane turns into water and carbon dioxide when it is used as a fuel, the level of polluting emissions is very low when compared to a diesel bus. Gas buses operate at the very high Euro 6 standard and are classed by the Government as a low emission vehicle.
Buses with ultra-clean Euro 6 engines will operate on our m2 route for the first two years. A Euro 6 engine emits fewer emissions than the average diesel Euro 6 car despite having 15 to 20 times more capacity. The latest generation of Euro 6 buses emit 95 per cent fewer nitrogen oxide emissions than the previous generation of buses. Within two years all of our services will use biogas which has zero carbon footprint.