Stagecoach electrifies Scottish routes

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Stagecoach announces new sustainability strategy aiming to deliver a greener, healthier and fairer Scotland

Stagecoach has marked Scottish Climate Week with a plan which it says will cut tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions a year from its business as it targets a zero emissions bus fleet by 2035. The investment in clean technologies, including new electric buses, is expected to deliver an estimated annual reduction of around 67,000 tonnes of CO2 from its fleet of more than 1,200 buses in Scotland in less than 15 years. A £21.4m fleet of 46 new fully electric buses is being introduced by Stagecoach in Aberdeen, Perth and Kilmarnock this year as part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus scheme, following six electric buses which were put into service earlier this summer under a partnership between Stagecoach and SP Energy Networks, connecting villages along the Irvine Valley with Kilmarnock town centre. Stagecoach has already taken advantage of the clean air retrofit programme which has seen over a third of buses in Scotland retrofitted with either Euro VI or new exhaust systems, and is working with the manufacturing sector on how to use clean technologies that are applicable to coaches, which operate on longer routes not currently suited to electric vehicles.

Separately, five Scottish Citylink coaches in east Scotland have been fitted with new solar panels which provide clean solar energy to power all on-board electrical equipment, and investment is being made in Stagecoach buildings and depots across Scotland, with 11 depots around the country fitted with hi-tech energy management systems to control heating and help reduce gas and heating oil consumption.

Under the latest plans, by 2027 Stagecoach energy management systems will meet the international standard ISO 50001 and it will also be procuring all electricity from 100% renewable sources from April 2022. As a result, annual carbon emissions from Stagecoach buildings in Scotland are expected to reduce by 40t CO2e a year from 2027. Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “There has never been a more important time to take action to address the climate emergency and play a part in helping Scotland deliver on its net zero ambitions. Our plans start with improving the sustainability of our own business. But we can also leverage the power of public transport focus on our plans to create a greener, smarter, safer, healthier and fairer Scotland. Making net zero a reality – and quickly – is about more than just switching technologies. We also need to change how we travel, moving people away from cars to walking, cycling and wheeling, and public transport. This needs strong and brave leadership from national and regional governments to create incentives to reward the right choices. We also need to make sure the country’s transport infrastructure is prioritised for people, such as bus passengers, whose are contributing to a cleaner and healthier country.”

Stagecoach Bluebird will be one operator benefiting from the new buses, receiving 22 Alexander Dennis double-deck buses to be based at its Tullos depot in Aberdeen in early 2022. The buses will be used on city services 59 and 727. The 727 provides a link between the city’s bus and railway stations and airport, whilst the 59 is a cross-city service serving the city’s Royal Infirmary.

Peter Knight, Managing Director of Stagecoach Bluebird said: “We are all really excited to welcome the electric buses to our Aberdeen fleet. Sustainable transport is critical to the future of our planet: decarbonising local journeys, reducing road congestion, improving air quality and tackling climate change. Travelling by bus, when we can, is one of the easiest ways to address climate change through carbon reduction of our own journeys. Major investment in new zero-emission buses also needs to be matched by better road infrastructure and more bus priority measures to help encourage people to make the switch from car to sustainable public transport.”

Mark Beveridge, Operations Director at Aberdeen Airport, added: “The news that Stagecoach will introduce new electric buses to the popular 727 Jet service between the city centre and the airport is a welcome move. Earlier this summer we set out our Sustainability Strategy with the ambitious target to decarobonise our own infrastructure by mid 2030s and support the wider aviation sector to achieve net zero by 2045. To do this will require collective effort throughout the wider transport industry and it is through partnership working such as this that we can respond to the most fundamental challenge of our time – the climate emergency.”

Six Volvo 7900 electric buses fitted with pantograph charging have already been launched to serve rural communities in the Kilmarnock area. RICHARD WALTER