Cinderella Goes to the Ball – In a Hybrid-Powered Bus
With current economic concerns looming large over many business areas, the message emanating from the bus and coach sector is that innovation and investment continues to shape an industry which is in pretty robust health.
The underlying figures for the sector are substantial – in the UK alone 4 billion passenger journeys are made each year on public transport vehicles, which adds up to nearly 50 billion passenger kilometres travelled annually in buses or coaches. Over 170,000 people are also directly employed – from drivers and operational support staff right through to senior executives in FTSE 100 companies.2
As well as the impact of rising fuel costs, climate change and congestion are two of the key challenges facing the sector and ones which are being tackled head on at this week’s Euro Bus Expo Show at the NEC Birmingham.
So much so that the UK’s five largest groups - who between them operate more than 30,000 vehicles and deliver 2 billion passenger journeys annually – have joined forces to demonstrate just how buses and coaches are a key part of the solution to making travel more sustainable in a special “Environment Zone”.3
Newly-appointed Transport Minister Paul Clark will be one of the many interested visitors to the three day trade event, along with the Chairman of the American Coach Association who is coming over to give a view from “the other side of the pond” on the very day that a new US President will have been voted in.
Of the 180 or so latest bus and coach models on display, a number will feature new hybrid technology for the first time. Already making headway in passenger cars, the combination of diesel power and electricity harnessed from vehicle braking systems is now becoming a commercially viable proposition. It is increasingly being seen as a major way forward for reductions in emissions, noise and significant fuel savings in cities like London, where red Hybrid Double Deck buses will be in service before Christmas.
Technology is playing an important role in other areas such as real time passenger information and “smart” ticketing too and this is reflected in a large number of exhibitors in a special Technology Zone which is also featured at the show for the first time.
All the major European manufacturers will be present in Birmingham next week and there are some significant home grown export success stories within their ranks – notably Scottish bus builder Alexander Dennis and Northern-Ireland based Wright Group. The latter will be showing the first of 50 hybrid –electric powered articulated vehicles which are about to be shipped to Las Vegas as part of a major Bus Rapid Transport project.
Commenting ahead of next week’s show, President of trade association CPT Giles Fearnley said, “The Coach and Bus industry is in very good shape economically and financially relative to many other sectors at the moment. Collectively we are also doing a tremendous amount of work to cut transport emissions4 – so much so that we are very comfortable in our role of Cinderella, rather than playing the part of an ugly sister.”
And who said there was no room for show business in the bus and coach industry? The actual red double deck bus that featured in the closing ceremony at the Beijing Olympics will be “transforming” itself daily on Tuesday 4th through to Thursday 6th November inclusive at the NEC Birmingham– minus Mr Beckham though.
DATE: 31 October
REF NO: 422
Notes for editors:
1. Euro Bus Expo will take place on 4th- 6th November 2008 in Halls 4 & 5 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Birmingham, United Kingdom. Further information on Euro Bus Expo 2008 including a full Exhibitor listing, updated Conference and Seminar Programme together with and Daily Press Diary can be found at www.eurobusxpo.com
2. Vehicle journey and employment statistics – Source Department for Transport
3. Carbon dioxide emissions – C02 emissions from the surface transport sector account for 25% of the UK total. 54% of UK transport sector emissions are from cars, with bus accounting for 3% and train 2% (Source – DEFRA 2007).
4. An information booklet entitled “Everyone needs to travel - Buses and coaches are a key part of the solution to making travel more sustainable” containing facts and figures and industry case studies can be downloaded at http://www.eurobusxpo.com/ from Saturday 1st November onwards.
For media enquiries contact:
John Major, CPT
T: +44 (0) 20 7257 2517
M: 07809 387 940
Mark Griffin, Expo Management
T: +44 (0)870 224 8619
F: +44 (0)870 224 8620