Plymouth awarded £485k to reduce bus emissions

Clean Vehicle Technology Fund grant will be used to install equipment aimed at reducing air pollution on 16 city buses

Plymouth council is to install technology designed to reduce air pollution on 16 city buses after receiving a £485,000 grant from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The Clean Vehicle Technology Fund grant will enable the council to fit ‘gyrodrive flywheel’ equipment on 16 RedFlash vehicles on the cross-city service 21 and 21A, which is run by bus company Plymouth Citybus.

Plymouth city council has been awarded £485,000 to modify 16 buses in a bid to boost air quality

Plymouth city council has been awarded £485,000 to modify 16 buses in a bid to boost air quality

The flywheel is electrically charged when the bus brakes, and it stores energy which the bus then uses when it pulls away. The stored energy can also be used to power heating and lighting on board the vehicle.

According to the council, this technology will lead to greater fuel efficiency and fewer nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, which will help to improve air quality on busy roads such as Exeter Street and Royal Parade where a “significant proportion of vehicle emissions come from buses”.

Exeter Street is on one of the key routes in and out of Plymouth and Royal Parade is the main bus interchange. The 21/21A service has been selected for the upgrade because it runs with high frequency along both of these roads.

These streets are within the city-wide Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), which was approved by city councillors last year in an attempt to tackle high NO2 traffic emissions in Plymouth (see story).

The council has also been granted £21,000 from Defra to carry out a Low Emission Zone feasibility study, as well as a separate £11,761 grant towards a school-run driving behaviour improvement programme to cut engine idling (see story).

Plymouth city councillor Mark Coker, cabinet member for transport, said: “This is a practical measure that will help us reduce pollution and improve air quality along two of the city’s busiest bus routes and lower the risk of associated health problems. We hope it will also encourage operators to equip more vehicles with this sort of technology in the future.”

The £484,921 DfT grant will pay for 14 buses to be modified, while Citybus is providing match funding for the additional two vehicles. The flywheel equipment is expected to be in use on the buses by January 2016.

Richard Stevens, managing director of Plymouth Citybus, said: “Citybus is delighted to partner the city council on this exciting initiative. I am confident that once fitted there will be real benefits in terms of improved efficiency, reduced consumption and reduced emissions — a real win-win for residents, passengers and other road users.”

Launched in June 2014 (see story), the DfT’s £5 million Clean Vehicle Technology Fund enables councils and public bodies to apply for grants of up to £500,000 towards vehicle upgrades aimed at reducing emissions in areas of poor air quality.


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