Bus Éireann commits to halving Green House Gas emissions by 2030

Targeting at least 30% growth in bus passenger numbers

Bus Éireann, Ireland’s national bus company, is committing to cut total greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, while also growing passenger numbers, including school transport, to 116 million a year.  Bus Éireann today published Driving Change, its first sustainability strategy, which outlines targets across climate action, waste, cities and communities, education, equality and decent, safe work.

“Our bus services play an essential role in connecting our communities,” said Minister for Transport, Mr Eamon Ryan TD.   “I’m impressed by the ambition laid out in Bus Eireann’s new strategy and fully support their plans. Better and more frequent services will benefit public transport users and provide an attractive alternative to those frequently travelling by car. This strategy will also help us meet our climate commitments; achieving a 50% electric-powered bus fleet by 2030, and increasing the number of people who choose public transport, will help us transform how we travel in Ireland.”

“We are very conscious that in setting these targets, we are committing Bus Éireann to very positive but profound transformation,” said Stephen Kent, Chief Executive Officer, Bus Éireann.  “The customer experience is the fleet, and we will move from having 1,100 diesel-fuelled buses and coaches on the road, to half of those being zero emission in the next nine years, to align with and enable the plans outlined by Government.  

“Because Bus Éireann operates a very extensive and varied public transport network, we need a range of solutions. This year, funded and supported by the National Transport Authority, we will deploy 61 hybrid buses, beginning in Galway, three hydrogen-fuelled buses for Dublin commuter routes and the tender is live to source battery electric vehicles for the Athlone town service.  This will positively impact not only emissions but also air quality in urban areas.

“The factors to enable this change are perhaps less visible but mean enormous adaptation within the company,” Stephen Kent continued.  “We are assessing the implications for the locations and power supplies of all of our depots. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is nascent in Ireland and its development must also be factored in.”  Bus Éireann operated the first trial of a hydrogen bus in public service in Ireland last year and hydrogen has many advantages for longer-distance routes. 

“Currently all our vehicles, whether Bus Éireann city and town service, Expressway interregional or school transport use the same fuel and rely on the internal combustion engine for power.  We have 300 highly skilled and valued craftworkers whose qualifications and expertise are in maintaining diesel engines.  Training programmes are being devised to support their change to working on electric-powered vehicles.  Our people are at the centre of the contribution we can make to addressing Ireland’s sustainability challenges,” continued Stephen Kent.

“From our customer perspective, we want to make bus travel the first choice especially for people living in towns and cities.  Right now, bus and coach travel is inherently more sustainable as it emits up to one-fifth the carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre, compared to private cars. Due to ongoing improvements, modern diesel bus engines emit 90% less nitrous oxides than they did in 2000.  In the towns and cities in which we operate, working in conjunction with the National Transport Authority with initiatives such as BusConnects, we will invest in our stations and provide a service that is 100% fully accessible and 100% emissions free.  This is an exciting prospect and a huge incentive for everyone to think ‘bus’ ahead of ‘car’ in the coming years,” said Stephen Kent.  Currently 79% of adult journeys outside of Dublin are by private car. 

“The big enablers for Bus Éireann will be fleet, power, people, facilities and funding.  The scale and urgency of this transformation will require ongoing close collaboration with the National Transport Authority, the Departments of Transport and Education, CIÉ, state bodies, local authorities, suppliers and local communities, and our employees, and we are grateful for their support,” concluded Stephen Kent.  

Other initiatives include an energy efficiency programme, sustainable procurement strategy and a new waste management plan with the aim of reducing waste by 50% over the next nine years, with 75% of all waste produced recycled.  The company is intending to have five times as many female supervisors, and full gender balance at board level.

Bus Éireann’s sustainability strategy was developed in the context of national and European policy including the Climate Action Plan, the National Clean Air Strategy, the EU Clean Vehicles Directive, the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, the Department of Transport’s work on sustainable transport policy, Project 2040 and the National Planning Framework, as well as the CIÉ Group sustainability strategy.

Bus Éireann has established a Board Sustainability Committee, which met for the first time in April.  Rory Leahy has been appointed Chief Safety and Sustainability Officer.  Bus Éireann has recently achieved a B rating accreditation by the Climate Disclosures Project, for taking co-ordinated action on climate issues, and has joined the Business in the Community network.

Driving Change the Bus Éireann Sustainability Strategy 2030 is available at www.buseireann.ie/Sustainability

Thursday, 20th May, 2021