Cleaner, greener technology for Plymouth buses

Buses on one of Plymouth’s busiest routes will be fitted with new technology designed to reduce pollution, thanks to a grant from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Plymouth City Council has been awarded almost £485,000 from the Clean Vehicle Technology Fund, which helps local authorities upgrade vehicles, reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The funding will be used to install ‘gyrodrive flywheel’ equipment on 16 RedFlash vehicles on the cross-city service 21/21A, run by Plymouth Citybus.

The flywheel gets electrically charged when the vehicle brakes and stores energy which the bus uses when it pulls away. The stored electricity can also be used to power heating and lighting on board.

This means greater fuel efficiency and fewer nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions – which is good news for air quality, especially on roads like Exeter Street and Royal Parade, where a significant proportion of vehicle emissions come from buses.

Exeter Street is on one of the key routes in and out of the city and Royal Parade is the main bus interchange. The service 21/21A runs with high frequency along both roads, which is why it has been selected for the upgrade.

The £484,921 from the DfT will pay for 14 buses to be modified and Citybus is providing match funding for the additional two vehicles.

Councillor Mark Coker, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “This is a practical measure that will help us reduce pollution and improve air quality along two of the city’s busiest bus routes and lower the risk of associated health problems. We hope it will also encourage operators to equip more vehicles with this sort of technology in the future.”

Richard Stevens, Managing Director Plymouth Citybus, said: “Citybus is delighted to partner the City Council on this exciting initiative. I am confident that once fitted there will be real benefits in terms of improved efficiency, reduced consumption and reduced emissions – a real win-win for residents, passengers and other road users.”

The flywheel equipment is expected to be in use on the buses by January 2016.