Hybrid buses to be used on most polluted routes

From left, Lothian Buses' Bill Devlin, transport minister Derek Mackay, Jim McFarlane of Lothian Buses and Adrian Wickens of Volvo launch the new buses. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
From left, Lothian Buses' Bill Devlin, transport minister Derek Mackay, Jim McFarlane of Lothian Buses and Adrian Wickens of Volvo launch the new buses. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A FLEET of eco-friendly buses is set to slash carbon emissions by 75 per cent on one of the city’s busiest routes.

The single-deckers would switch automatically to electric in pollution hotspots such as Musselburgh High Street, which has some of the poorest air quality levels in Scotland.

The hybrid electric-diesel technology would operate on the number 30 service, which also passes though Princes Street and Gorgie Road.

Lothian Buses will introduce 25 vehicles costing around £12 million by mid to late 2017, with funding being sought from the Scottish Green Bus Fund.

With a full charge lasting for seven miles, up to 40 per cent of the route can be covered using electricity, producing zero tailpipe emissions. Trialled in European cities by Volvo, the vehicles will reduce diesel consumption by 40 per cent.

Bill Devlin, Lothian Buses engineering director said: “This is the next logical step in creating more environmentally-friendly travel options for our passengers. We’re at an advanced stage in our discussions and are very excited about the prospect of bringing this technology to Edinburgh.”

Under the plans the fleet will use four charging stations, which are set to be built at Clovenstone and Musselburgh. A bus will be fully charged in six minutes and there would also be access for cars and other vehicles.

Transport minister Derek McKay said Lothian Buses had shown “consistent commitment to improving the environmental performance”.

He said: “As technologies in this area continue to develop, I’m delighted to have this ­opportunity to see how innovative bus manufacturers and operators can work together to deliver further changes in terms of greener, high-quality public transport options.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport and environment leader, said the launch underlined ambitions for “cleaner energy” in areas such as Musselburgh High Street, which sees an estimated 20,000 vehicles daily.

And independent ward councillor John Caldwell said: “Anything that can begin to help improve the environmental situation in the High Street is most welcome and I hope that other bus companies will try something similar.”

Emilia Hanna from Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “Lothian Buses have the right idea when it comes to tackling air pollution and they have shown great initiative to put more hybrid buses onto some of Edinburgh and East Lothian’s most polluted streets.”

One of the new buses will be on show at Lothian Buses’ Doors Open Day on Saturday, 12pm until 4pm at the Central Depot on Annandale Street.