Cutting carbon from buses: new report finds progress but need to review incentives to encourage latest technology

Posted: 2 July 2014 | LOWCVP | 1 comment

Current incentive mechanisms have been vital to the growth of the low carbon emission bus market according to a new report for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership…

Current incentive mechanisms have been vital to the growth of the low carbon emission bus (LCEB) market according to a new report for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP). The Government’s Green Bus Fund (GBF) and enhancements to the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) have been key mechanisms driving the introduction of LCEB and uptake but industry specialists interviewed for the report also expressed some concern about aspects of current incentive mechanisms as well as some uncertainty arising from doubts about levels of future support.

The report identifies a number of barriers affecting the further take up of LCEB, with one of the key issues being the higher capital cost. The authors recommend that incentive mechanisms supporting both the capital and running costs for LCEB should continue in a revised format in order to encourage further growth in the LCEB market. A graduated scale incentive scheme related to carbon savings is proposed, to ensure a fair and technology neutral approach and to encourage the take up of a wider variety of LCEB technologies. This would also help to avoid any stifling of ambition to achieve greater reductions than the current 30% threshold for well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions which presently defines a low carbon emission bus.

Accompanying this central recommendation is a response that industry representatives favour an incentive based on running costs which stays with a vehicle for its life to support the second-hand market for LCEBs given the typically long service life of bus fleets.

The study also finds that awareness of the performance of LCEBs needs to be increased to improve knowledge and confidence of bus operators in purchasing new technologies. The LowCVP aims to address this issue by holding a Low Carbon Bus Symposium early next year to bring together bus operators, manufacturers and local authorities to share experience in the performance, environmental and economic benefits of LCEB.

The study, prepared for the LowCVP by Transport &Travel Research (TTR) in partnership with TRL, also recommends that consideration should be given to providing incentives for the introduction of gas and electric charging infrastructure for bus fleets. This would give greater opportunity for the introduction of these technologies with the potential for deeper cuts in carbon emissions and running costs.

The overall aim of the study was to provide policy makers with recommendations on future market support mechanisms, both financial and non-financial, to support further growth of the UK market for low emission buses.

The Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “We are committed to cutting carbon from transport through our £500 million Ultra Low Emission Vehicle package, including £30 million dedicated to driving down emissions from buses. We welcome the LowCVP’s report, which will help to inform our proposals for the new low emission bus fund.”

Commenting on the report Gloria Esposito, LowCVP’s Head of Projects said: “It’s clear that the policy initiatives which the LowCVP has helped Government to design have played a crucial role in making the UK one of the leading producers and adopters of low carbon buses in the world.

“It’s time now to examine how the incentives and test procedures are working and to adjust them where necessary to ensure that the UK maintains its successful position at the forefront of this industry.”

Report author and TTR divisional manager, Tom Parker said: “The study benefitted from very active engagement by the bus industry allowing the researchers from both TTR and our partners TRL to get quickly to the heart of the issues involved. There is undoubtedly already great interest and motivation to invest in low emission solutions, and the adoption of a truly technology neutral incentive approach could unlock the full range of opportunities for the UK to design, build and operate buses in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner.”

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One response to “Cutting carbon from buses: new report finds progress but need to review incentives to encourage latest technology”

  1. Brian Firth says:

    The fact that this article highlights the reatively long operational life of buses and coaches is pertinent.
    The support of a targetted retrofit of DPF’s to buses and coaches operated by those operators providing community and school transport services would reduce emissions and provide real health cost benefits for the UK as a whole.
    This sector, which tends to operate older vehicles, is often ignored however I believe West Yorkshire have been proactive in this regard, retrofitting a fleet of school buses to achieve Euro 5.
    Diesel Particulate matter is carcinogenic, it seems ironic to me that vulnerable school children can be put at risk of health problems when the solution is relatively simple and comparatively low cost.

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