First Bus get on board with clean air initiatives as fleet receives green makeover

First Bus is well on its way to delivering its most eco-friendly fleet of buses yet across Southampton. In early 2018, in partnership with four bus companies, Southampton City Council successfully secured £2.7 million from the Government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund to retrofit buses and reduce harmful emissions in the city.

Since then, City Reds has been working hard to upgrade 49 of its Southampton vehicles with innovative selective catalytic reduction technology and bring its fleet to the Euro 6 standard for vehicle emissions - which almost completely removes Nitrogen Dioxides emissions. The retrofit programme is set for completion by May, with Go South Coast, Xelabus and Wheelers set to follow later in the year.

Southampton City Council's Jacqui Rayment, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Transport and Public Realm, was joined by Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City, at First Bus' Southampton depot to learn more about the innovative technology transforming the bus company's fleet.

Public transport offers a viable solution to single occupancy car journeys and the associated challenge of air pollution. Local bus operators recognise the major role they have to play and have made a concerted effort to enhance the city’s bus travel experience and provide a clean, affordable and quality alternative to travelling by car.
In August of last year, Go South Coast’s Unilink service welcomed 32 new Euro 6 double deckers offering an increased level of comfort and on board technology. In November 2018, the group’s Bluestar brand also invested in 19 new Euro 6 double decker buses for its number 18 service and another for the QuayConnect service between Town Quay and Central Station. Meanwhile the brand has also been promoting its ‘Bluestar Promise’ to inspire people to swap one car journey a week with a journey by bus instead, while also looking ahead to its retrofit programme later this year.
These collaborative strides have ensured that bus travel in Southampton is a greener, more attractive proposition than ever before and have placed the city at the forefront of bus travel growth in the UK, with numbers bucking national trends. Bus travel has increased by 17% since 2011, with over 21 million bus journeys made each year in the city.