By Rachel Cunningham
Public transport is the obvious solutions in reducing the negative environmental impact of urban mobility. Taking a bus, even if it runs on diesel, as most of Dublin Bus currently does, is significantly greener than taking an electric car or taxi.
Dublin Bus has committed to becoming a zero-emissions operator by 2050 in its environmental report Driving Change: Our Journey To Zero, launched last Thursday. Some of the listed aims of the zero emissions report include its first fully electric route within the next three years, fully electrified depots within five years and a complete conversion across all depots to zero emissions over a seven-year period. Passengers can also expect that 50 per cent of the fleet will consist of diesel hybrid and battery electric buses within a ten-year timeframe.
Colin Ward, Dublin Bus Environmental, Health and Safety Manager, spoke to the Dublin Gazette about the bus service’s sustainable ambitions: “We’ve been lobbying for years about making the change towards alternative fuels. We expect to see exponential benefits in our environmental performance by making the transition from diesel to electric, with hybrid electric acting as a stepping stone towards this aim. Zero emissions in 2050, in keeping with the Climate Action Bill, is our end goal and we’re working towards that while also putting our own targets in place. We’ve been working with the SEAI for the last number of years and are hopeful that we will have at least a 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030”.
“We currently have 14 plug-in hybrids in service as of today and hope to have 20 over the next two weeks, with the aim of 200 being delivered by the end of 2021. Although we would love to switch the 1,000 buses in our fleet sooner, we think that 2050 is a realistic trajectory. Due to BusConnects increase demands, it’s likely that our fleet will grow by a third over the next number of years”, he continued.
Even before the introduction of electric vehicles, each full bus was reportedly replacing the equivalent of 80 cars on Irish roads, reducing emissions by over 90 per cent and adding 300 metres of free roadway. Carrying up to 142 million passengers annually, Dublin Bus claims that its services were removing as many as 160,000 cars from the road on a daily basis, prior to the pandemic.
From an operational perspective, the transportation service claims to have one of the lowest emission fleets in Europe. Since 2017, it has reduced emissions by 13,500 tonnes, which equates to the weight of the entire bus fleet of 1,000 buses and its fuel efficiency measures have reduced consumption of diesel by more than 2.5 million litres per year. Its present buses produce 87 per cent less emissions per person than car users and LED lighting has been installed to save energy across its facilities.
“In Dublin Bus we have a dual mandate in the sense that we want to improve what we’re doing and we also enable sustainable change. The new technology is important for the future but the biggest impact that Dublin Bus can make today is to get people out of their private cars and on to our buses, even with the current predominantly diesel fleet it is significantly more sustainable. We anticipate a future of multimodal transport and are exploring different avenues of accommodating personal modes of transportation, such as e-scooters. In this way, these methods of transport can integrate and complement each other”, Mr Ward concluded.
Looking at some of Dublin’s other leading public transport providers, Iarnród Éireann published its Strategy 2027 earlier this year, which includes plans for an electric/hybrid fleet to be gradually rolled-out to all rail services. The railway service is also working with the Office of Public Works and other stakeholders to protect rail infrastructure against impacts of climate change, including coastal erosion, extreme weather and flooding.
The Luas is not reliant on fossil fuels or other natural resources and represents less air pollution, less noise and less vibration from road traffic. The company operates under the Environmental Impact Steering Group (EISG) which is responsible for the development and implementation of sustainability initiatives for Luas targeting waste generation, energy consumption and CO2 emissions.