Reading Buses is to become the world’s first operator of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered Scania double deckers. In a commercial transaction without Government grant funding, the operator has ordered five Scania N280UD models with ADL Enviro 400MMC style bodywork, worth £1.3m. The buses’ CNG will be from the same renewable bio-methane sources that power the 34 single deck gas buses that the company has successfully introduced to service since 2013.
The new gas buses will be used to upgrade royal blue 33 services operating along Tilehurst Road between Reading town centre, Tilehurst and Turnham’s Farm. Onboard, the gas buses will feature high back seating trimmed in materials ‘inspired by cutting edge automotive trends’, USB charging sockets, 4G Wi-Fi and next stop audio and visual customer information systems. The royal blue 33 operates seven days a week with frequencies of up to every ten minutes on weekdays along Tilehurst Road. The new buses will come into operation in October 2016 replacing five older buses currently used on the route.
Reading Buses Chief Engineer, John Bickerton, said, ‘Our gas buses are consistently high performers in terms of both reliability and customer appeal with considerably quieter and greener engines than conventional diesel vehicles. We were the first UK operator of Scania’s gas single deck buses and our experience of these has proven the economic case to add more such vehicles within our existing depot infrastructure and come back three years later with yet another major order that is again a “first” for gas buses.’
Reading Buses CEO, Martijn Gilbert, said, ‘We are very excited about being the launch customer for Scania’s new double deck gas product and the leading edge environmental credentials that these buses will bring to our town and customers. We are continuing to work tirelessly with our industry partners to provide innovative solutions to keeping our town moving, improving air quality and enhancing the travelling experience for our customers. I am confident the pioneering new buses will take all these factors to even greater heights and continue our work to embody the bus as the very best way to get around Reading.’
UK Bus and Coach Fleet Sales General Manager for Scania (Great Britain) Ltd, Mark Oliver, said, ‘We have had a long and successful relationship with Reading Buses dating back over 30 years. We’re delighted to welcome the company as our launch customer for our much anticipated gas double decker and look forward to working with them and the wider UK bus industry to continue demonstrating the excellent environmental and operational credentials of gas power and Scania’s product range. Our new double deck model complements our popular K280UB single decker range and has been developed in response to the UK industry’s demands for greater capacity for city and town bus operations.’
Customer Development Director at Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), Keith Watson, said, ‘Over the course of our history we have repeatedly pioneered frontier technology as part of ADL’s drive towards the ultimate goal of zero emissions. This journey has come a long way and involved numerous partnerships ranging across smart technology, mild hybrids, full blown hybrid expertise, virtual electric and pure electric know-how.’
‘In a similar vein, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Scania and Reading Buses in the development and introduction of vehicles driven by CNG (compressed natural gas) derived from a bio-methane source. The introduction of double decks based on this technology is a ‘world first’ which says a great deal about the power of partnerships and the commitment of Reading Buses to cleaner, greener transport solutions. We are delighted to be working with them and Scania on this ground breaking initiative.’