Britain’s bus companies have pledged to buy only ultra-low or zero emission vehicles by 2025 to substantially cut carbon emissions.
The switch to eco-friendly vehicles will cut the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere by half a million tonnes a year, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) said.
The CPT represents more than 95% of the bus industry including major operators Arriva, First Group, Go Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach as well as hundreds of smaller carriers.
The confederation has also committed to reducing travel costs for job seekers and apprentices, targets to speed up services and capping the cost of daily and weekly travel in urban areas.
It aims to grow bus use by one billion extra passenger journeys a year by 2030 and calls on ministers to develop a national bus strategy.
The CPT is promising to work with the government to ensure that all new buses will be either ultra-low or zero emission vehicles from 2025 – in a move, it said, will have “a real impact in seeking to achieve the UK’s climate change targets”.
At present, only 3% of the total bus fleet is ultra-low or zero emission, according to the confederation’s figures, while 4.2% of last year’s new vehicles were zero emission.
Even the most environmentally friendly diesel bus emits 1.3kg of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre and around 104 tonnes per year.
Graham Vidler, CPT chief executive said: “Buses are already the cleanest form of road transport and have a crucial role to play in tackling environmental issues and helping to meet important targets on improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions.
“With the right support from government to make the transition the bus industry will buy only ultra-low or zero emission buses by 2025, reducing CO2 emissions by half a million tonnes a year.”
Buses are a vital part of the UK’s infrastructure with passengers generating £64bn of economic output annually.
But while bus travel remains the most popular form of public transport, passenger numbers in Britain have flatlined after declining central funding led to fewer services and higher fares.
Nonetheless, more than two million people travel to work by bus daily, and a million more to school or college, the CPT said.