Lothian Bus ‘greener’ with Bus2020 project

Lothian Buses, in its 100th year, has launched its vision for environmentally-conscious travel.

Bus2020 takes a holistic view of transport’s responsibility for the environment, with an accelerated fleet replacement programme which will see all of the fleet at Euro V or better, including a proportion of electric and hybrid buses.

But the ‘greening’ of the company includes improvements in its real estate and even its office practises, and has been achieved with the help of Claire McVicar, the Environmental Officer who joined the company from the oil industry in 2016: “We laid out a pathway and started to put a strategy together,” Managing Director Richard Hall told Bus and Coach Buyer. “That has now become a living and breathing document.”

“It’s been a steep learning curve but I quickly realised a lot can be done,” said Claire. “But from the start I was so impressed at how much focus the bus industry has on the environment.”

Claire said the next generation of bus users are more environmentally aware and Edinburgh is a city with a huge student population: “The green agenda means something to them,” said Claire.

The changes are projected to represent an investment of £76 million over five years, and include replacement of 10% of the fleet each year – some 70 or 80 buses: “We’re playing catch up,” said Richard. “In 2013/14 we had a sort of investment holiday.”

Most of the vehicles will be Euro VI diesels, said Richard, because although Lothian is running six electrics and will continue to revisit the technology, for the time being Richard believes diesels will be the best option: “Three or four years ago, all we were talking about was the ‘electric journey’ but it’s become clear electrics are not the total solution. Range is still the biggest challenge.

“The industry still has a ‘dirty diesels’ label yet Euro VI is a huge advance on Euro V, and streets ahead of the Euro 6 car.”

Lothian’s buildings and offices are also changing. The business has replaced all lighting with LED, much of it ‘smart’ lighting which is only on when staff are present, and solar PV panels are under consideration, though as Lothian operates from some Grade 1 listed buildings, will not be possible there.

“We are working with the Energy Savings Trust to help meet our targets. More waste is now recycled. There is nothing going to landfill. We got rid of individual bins in the office, replaced with communal recycling bins. Our procurement policy now considers packaging. Nobody has a desktop printer – we use combined multi-function machines.”

Bus2020 will be marketed to local authorities and other stakeholders, but is also aimed at passengers, with the Lothian website explaining its role in ‘greening’ its services.

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