First Bus completes 1,000 air quality refits

First Bus has reached a significant milestone in its air quality retrofit programme, completing the refit of 1,000 buses across its UK network with new exhaust systems and e-Fans to comply with Euro VI emission requirements.

The £16m retrofitting programme has been successfully delivered in partnership with the Joint Air Quality Unit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Transport (DfT), local authorities, Transport Scotland and suppliers Eminox, HJS and Grayson. This has involved significant financial investment and time commitment from First Bus and government departments.

The milestone has been completed in just over two years and the 1,000th bus was retrofitted in Manchester. Alongside scheduling challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, First Bus has worked hard to ensure that operations have continued with limited interruption to customers during the retrofitting programme.

John Dowie, First Bus Strategy Director, said, “We are committed to doing everything we can to make our buses as environmentally friendly as they can be for the communities we serve. We’re proud to have achieved this milestone at the turn of the year, highlighting the ongoing work of our engineering teams. We estimate that each retrofit reduces air pollutants and harmful emissions by up to 95%, and this makes a considerable positive impact to air quality for our towns and cities. Bus services will be a fundamental part of economic recovery as the UK starts to emerge from the pandemic.”

The milestone has been reached at a critical point for First Bus, following their commitment to operate a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035, and their pledge not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. In the past 12 months the operator has introduced several new bus models powered by diesel alternatives to their UK fleet. These include hydrogen-powered, bio-methane-fuelled, and electric buses. Retrofit investment is an important step which ensures the vehicles’ full lifecycles are utilised while reducing emissions. This helps support longer term clean air ambitions.

First Bus’s dedication to first class environmental performance has been bolstered further through the appointment of Jon Tivey as Head of Environment. Jon joins the operator with wide-ranging experience of managing environmental programmes, having previously advised the Olympics and Gatwick Airport. Jon will focus on supporting the operator’s ambitions to deliver best-in-class environmental performance across all areas of its business, working in collaboration with key internal and external stakeholders.

Jon Tivey, Head of Environment at First Bus, said: “First Bus has been on the trajectory towards a zero-emission bus fleet for a few years and I’ve joined at an exciting time for the business and the industry as we look to decarbonise public transport and significantly contribute to the green recovery. The retrofitting milestone is a great reminder that the environment is an ongoing focus for the business. The retrofitting programme is one way in which we can significantly reduce harmful emissions on our roads. I am particularly looking forward to using my experience in improving performance in all aspects of the environment over the long term, and working closely with colleagues, our supply chain, client/partners, and importantly our customers to achieve our ambitions.”

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