Tech and Innovation

Greener buses to be introduced across England with support from Yorkshire Bank

Rotala, a national bus company which operates key transport routes across England, will introduce a new fleet of low carbon emission buses in 2021 as it continues to become a greener business.

With financial support from Yorkshire Bank, Rotala is in the process of purchasing 163 micro hybrid low-floor double and single-decker vehicles, which meet Euro 6 emissions standards, as well as the Government’s Low Emission Bus scheme targets to improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions. Most of the double decker vehicles will be introduced into its Greater Manchester business, Diamond Bus North West, and be in service by mid- 2021. Single decker vehicles will be introduced into the company’s West Midlands, Preston Bus and Heathrow operations, also by mid- 2021.

The micro hybrid bus powers the electrics and compressed air systems by recovering energy that is otherwise lost from braking, which can save up to 10 per cent in fuel costs. The engine is a low carbon diesel engine powertrain, which allows Rotala to benefit from the extra Bus Service Operator’s Grant available from the UK Government under the Low Emission Bus scheme.

Simon Dunn, Chief Executive of Rotala, said: “Our new fleet of buses and coaches is part of our green strategy as we ultimately move towards becoming net zero. The vehicles should last around 15 years, which will take us to the deadline for zero carbon emissions. The technology in this area is still new, so we are keen to see how this develops over the next few years and we will continue to make changes in our business to meet our green ambitions.”

Each micro hybrid model has been made in the UK and is fitted with CCTV and USB charging points, as well as leather seats.

Simon has grown up in the travel industry and 2020 was a year like no other, with the UK Government providing funding to keep vital routes operational during the pandemic. He added: “I’ve always worked in a commercial environment, but in these strange times we are instead working almost at the direction of the Department for Transport and local authorities across the country. That is a new experience for me, however, keeping public transport links open is vital – ensuring a reliable service for our key workers, who are dependent on our bus routes, and enabling everyone to travel as safely as possible.

“We are positive about the future and believe that passenger numbers will return once businesses can get people back to work. While we might not reach 100 per cent of previous passenger numbers, there will be other opportunities to scale the business.”

Rotala was formed in 2005 and has grown through the acquisition and amalgamation of local coach and bus operations and is now one of the largest operators in the North West, West Midlands, and South East. It has been a customer of Yorkshire Bank, now owned by Virgin Money, for six years.

James Oliver, Senior Director at Yorkshire Bank, said: “Rotala has a strong sustainability strategy to ensure it meets the net zero target by 2035 and the introduction of the micro hybrid fleet is a vital part of that plan. The new vehicles will allow Rotala’s customers to have a more comfortable journey, while reducing some of the maintenance costs on its older fleet. The Bank is eager to support businesses to become greener – our research suggest that while 85% of SMEs surveyed believe that sustainability is important to their business, only 43% currently have targets in place. We have recently launched our own sustainability strategy and our Benchmarking Tool, in partnership with Future-Fit Foundation, is open to any UK business wanting to understand how it can contribute to a more sustainable future.”