Social enterprise to run Bristol’s longest bus route on biogas

A social enterprise has been chosen to operate the ‘M1’, which is the longest bus route in Bristol.

Bristol Community Transport (BCT) started running four mainstream bus services in Bristol in the autumn last year, under contract to the council.  BCT already operates the biggest community transport network in Bristol which including minibus hires, transport for individuals and community buses.

They say they will reinvest profits made from the route into community projects and transport improvements.

BCT has also announced that they will spend £7m on 21 ‘biogas buses’ which run on food waste and municipal sewage.  It uses a process called anaerobic digestion, and the methane that is emitted from the digestion process is captured, treated and turned into fuel.

More than half (50–65%) of biogas consists of methane and 30–45% is carbon dioxide. It also contains small volumes of water vapour, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen sulphide.

A 2016 report revealed that CO2 emissions in buses fuelled by natural gas, depending on the scenario, are from 68% to 82% lower compared to diesel.

The route will be part of the MetroBus network, a much-delayed transport overhaul in Bristol that has cost more than £230m to date. The delays have been blamed on the installation of iPoints at bus stops, which is where passengers can purchase tickets before boarding.

Councillor Mhairi Threfall said: ‘Bristol Community Transport is making a significant investment and commitment to Bristol that will see benefits here for many years to come.’

Dai Powell, chief executive of HCT Group, the parent company of BCT, said: ‘We think it’s going to make a real difference to people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

‘As a social enterprise, we don’t have shareholders and exist for community benefit.

‘That means we will re-invest the money we make from the Metrobus into services for elderly or disabled people in the local area, which we hope will go some way towards meeting the increasing needs of these groups.’

Colin Hunt, cabinet member for transport at South Gloucestershire Council added: ‘Cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and bus users are already experiencing the benefits that MetroBus has brought since the infrastructure was put in.’

James Freeman, managing director of First West of England said: “We look forward to working in contract with BCT as operator of MetroBus M1.

‘This is a really innovative operating model. We believe that this is the first time in England that operators have been contracted to each other in the interests of keeping things simple for the travelling public’

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett is the editor of Environment Journal. Follow him on Twitter

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