Ireland’s Minister for Public and Commuter Transport, Alan Kelly, TD, has welcomed Bus Éireann’s trial of the country’s first natural gas-powered bus in more than a decade*, a move that may help reduce fuel costs and benefit the environment. The natural gas-powered city bus is operating across a number of city routes in Cork until August in a trial that will examine the potential fuel and emission savings from the vehicle, as well as its operational performance. The trial is being undertaken in partnership with Bord Gáis Networks.
The use of natural gas-powered buses results in significantly improved air quality in cities. Studies have shown that they reduce emissions such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur and soot, which affect health (especially heart and respiratory systems). Natural gas-powered buses also provide significant savings in fuel costs. In some European cities, reductions of up to 50 per cent in fuel costs are achieved compared to diesel.
The MAN Eco-city MGV1 bus is refuelled through a compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling unit based at the Bus Éireann Capwell Road depot in Cork.
Minister Kelly said, “This trial is an excellent initiative by Bus Éireann that has the potential to help towards the country’s target of 16 per cent of energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020 and increase our energy security. It is also great to see two semi-State companies working together on a project that could ultimately benefit communities and the country as a whole.”
“Travelling by bus and coach is already one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel and natural gas-powered buses have the potential to deliver further energy efficiencies. This pilot is one of a range of energy management initiatives that we are undertaking to help the environment and reduce our costs,” said Martin Nolan, CEO, Bus Éireann.
John Barry, Managing Director of Bord Gáis Networks, said “The use of natural gas as a transport fuel can bring great benefits, not only to the Irish transportation sector, but also to the local community in the form of cleaner air. This clean and cost-effective fuel is already being used on public bus systems in many cities in Europe so the benefits are proven.”
“We believe there is a viable opportunity for natural gas-powered vehicles in Ireland and we are working with Bus Éireann and others to facilitate the development of a NGV industry,” Barry added.
Following completion of the trial, Bus Éireann will evaluate the performance of the vehicle and if it proves successful, the company will look to purchase gas-powered vehicles for use on publicly subvented services subject to funding being available.
* This article has been amended since first published. NGV Global learned subsequent to publication that the first ever NGV-powered bus in Ireland was in fact two Volvo Dennis buses operated by the local Transit Authority and sponsored by the EU and to a large degree by Bord Gáis.
(This article compiled using information from a Bus Éireann press release)