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150,000 Emission-Free Kilometres on Bus Éireann Network in 2021

New, more sustainable buses, procured through the NTA, allowed passengers to travel over 150,000 emission-free kilometres in 2021, according to the Bus Éireann Annual Sustainability Report.

The 61 hybrid and three hydrogen buses procured by the NTA delivered 150,000 emission-free kilometres of passenger journeys in Galway, Limerick and Dublin commuter routes.

In 2021, Galway became Ireland’s first city with an entirely hybrid bus service, funded by the NTA and operated by Bus Éireann. Diesel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 30% as a result.

These buses, the first in an increasingly sustainable fleet, are crucial to progress towards Bus Éireann’s plan to become one of the greenest national transport companies in Europe.

The annual sustainability report, published today, is the first to detail Ireland’s national bus company’s progress towards the ambitious goals set out in its ‘Driving Change Sustainability Strategy, 2021-2030’ published in May 2021.

Among Bus Éireann’s other key targets are a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the company’s low-emission fleet percentage to 50%; improving the efficiency of its buildings and machinery; diverting 50% of generated waste away from landfill and incineration; and growing the school transport service by 20% to reduce congestion on the national road network.

Over 90 million passenger journeys annually were made with Bus Éireann, Expressway and school transport services pre-Covid-19. The company is targeting at least a 30% increase by 2030, taking millions of car movements off the road. It is estimated that private cars emit up to five times more CO2 per passenger kilometre than bus transport.

Other sustainability milestones achieved in 2021 include supplying 1,700 Bus Éireann employees with new uniforms made from ethically sourced and recycled material, avoiding plastic waste ending up in landfills or oceans.

Supported by the NTA, Bus Éireann deployed the first hydrogen electric buses in service in Ireland in July 2021. These buses have enabled 40,000km of zero-emission travel on the Dublin-Ratoath route in just five months. Together, the three hydrogen buses prevented 34 tonnes of CO2 emissions in these early stages.

Other achievements include:

  • 6,100 tyres reused and recycled in 2021.
  • Investment in 30 new Expressway coaches, which will deliver lower emissions and improved efficiency for the commercial coach fleet.
  • Overall, 63% of Bus Éireann’s service fleet is now at the cleanest Euro VI emission standard for diesel engines, an 8% increase on the previous year.
  • 21% improvement in energy efficiency performance achieved against base year.
  • 8.7% decrease in waste volume.
  • 950 hours of sustainability training provided to employees.
  • 38% of contracts had green criteria included in the evaluation process, the first year of Green Procurement.
  • 83% of Bus Éireann’s workforce feel their jobs are worthwhile and rewarding, while employee engagement increased six points to 79%.
  • Established a dedicated company Board sustainability sub-committee.

Stephen Kent, Chief Executive of Bus Éireann, said, “Bus Éireann is increasingly offering a green and affordable alternative to private car use, whether for travelling to school or college, within cities and towns, or in rural areas or intercity. We are putting sustainability at the centre of everything we do. While the transformation is fundamental and the challenge is enormous, we’re pleased that we’re on track for most of our targets.”

“Total emission-free kilometres are still low in the scale of our operations, but this was the first year of emission-free kilometres ever operated in Irish public bus transport. That makes 2021 a really significant year. Facilitating 90 million journeys a year, we can and are making a real and lasting positive difference by encouraging people to make sustainable travel choices, and by working together to reduce our carbon footprint and energy consumption.”

“We were also pleased to see the levels of our employee engagement increase, while 83% of our workforce feel their jobs are rewarding. We are acutely aware of the urgency of climate action and of the role of bus public transport in addressing it, and we are driving forward as quickly and as efficiently as possible with the support of the National Transport Authority, CIÉ and the Department of Transport.”

Rory Leahy, Chief Safety and Sustainability Officer at Bus Éireann, said, “according to our recent socio-economic impact report, commissioned by Bus Éireann and carried out by KPMG, up to 12.6 million car journeys are avoided annually by passengers choosing to leave their car at home and instead travelling on Bus Éireann services.”

“We’re making progress towards our 2030 targets, but we have more to do. As we work to achieve our ambitions, we continue to review and monitor our performance and identify additional areas for development and improvement.”

“One such area is in waste, where we recognise the need to significantly increase our recycling rates. We are planning a series of in-depth waste audits at our key sites, and our target is to increase the number of commercial recycle bins by at least 20% this year.”

Bus Éireann has commenced planning for the reconfiguration of its bus depots in Athlone, Limerick, Cork and Galway, to accommodate electric vehicles, in addition to training the company’s craft workers to facilitate the transition from diesel to electric.

Overall, the transition from diesel to electric, and the subsequent reconfiguration of bus depots and training, represents a significant investment by the NTA in the decarbonisation of public transport.

Bus Éireann employs 2,700 people, across 17 locations from 40 different countries. The company operates 1,100 vehicles across 5,000 bus stops around the country and in 2019 facilitated 90 million passenger trips across almost 200 million kilometres.

Source: Bus Éireann


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