"First is set to order 45 double-deck gas buses for the Bristol area if its bid as part of OLEV’s Low Emission Bus Scheme is successful. In announcing its fleet order for 2016/17, First originally identified 45 Enviro400 MMCs as “specification to be confirmed”, but we now understand that this refers to 45 Scania double-deck gas bus chassis with Enviro400 MMC bodies; the same combination as those in the first confirmed double-deck gas bus order by Reading Buses announced last month.
First Bus managing director Giles Fearnley told busandcoach that the gas buses would go to the Bristol area under the stewardship of MD James Freeman who was a champion of gas buses when he was CEO at Reading Buses and oversaw the arrival there of the initial batch of single-deck Scania gas buses with Enviro300 bodies in 2013. Freeman was also involved in high-profile trials of Wessex Water’s ‘Poo Bus’ last year after becoming managing director of First West of England".
The OLEV funding announcements were originally scheduled to be published in January with the bidding deadline back in October 2015, but the timetable is believed to have slipped due to protracted negotiations with the EU about clearing State Aid hurdles.
The DfT has not been able to confirm a revised date for publishing the winning awards. However it is notable that Reading Buses’ recent order for gas buses stated that these were being done without recourse to subsidy, as its experience has convinced it of the commercial case for gas buses.
The First Bus order for 45 gas buses, if it comes to fruition, is likely to be seen as a significant boost for gas-powered buses in the UK, although its ambitions are trumped by Nottingham City Transport which has submitted a bid to OLEV for 82 double-deck gas buses over the next three years.....
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