Saturday, 30 May 2015

FIRSTGROUP ANNOUNCES £77.7m INVESTMENT IN 385 NEW BUSES




FirstGroup, the leading transport operator in the UK and North America, has announced that its bus division has ordered 385 new vehicles worth £77.7m* for delivery in the current financial year. 

First Bus’ order underlines its commitment to provide high quality bus services for its customers and stakeholder partners and reflects increasing passenger and revenue growth across its operations. It brings the company’s investment to nearly £385m over five years, enabling the replacement of some 2,200 vehicles, around a third of its fleet. 

The new vehicles, which feature a mixture of double deckers, single deckers, and midis, will all come fitted with leather seats, CCTV and Wi-Fi providing customers with free internet access. In addition to the dedicated space for wheelchair users, FirstGroup will also provide extra space for pushchairs and trial the installation of USB charging points on some vehicles. 

Of the 385 vehicle order, more than 90% (355) of the new buses will be fitted with Euro 6 engines, the biggest investment (£73m) in Euro 6 buses in the UK to date. Test results show that running eight Euro 6 buses produces the same amount of certain exhaust emissions, including Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM), as running one bus with a Euro 5 engine**. With the majority of its businesses across the UK set to benefit from the introduction of Euro 6 buses, there will be a positive impact on air quality in town and city centres. 

Some 99% of the 385 vehicles in the First Bus order are Department for Transport ‘low carbon certified’, making them amongst the most fuel efficient buses on the market. Adding these to the 273 low carbon certified Wrightbus StreetLites purchased in 2014, First Bus will shortly be saving an estimated 9,500 tonnes of CO2 per year. The 2015/16 investment will bring the company’s fleet of low carbon certified vehicles to more than 750, thought to be the largest in the UK. 

The order is a big boost to British manufacturing supporting hundreds of UK jobs. Ballymena based Wrightbus will manufacture 248 vehicles. Falkirk’s ADL has secured an order for 117 vehicles, while Volvo has won a contract to build 20 double decker chassis in Sweden, with the bodies manufactured by Wrightbus. 

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus, said: “This is great news for First Bus customers across the UK. In five years we’ve invested around £385m in new vehicles. Our £77.7m investment this year underlines our continuing determination to provide ever better bus services for our customers and reflects the increasing passenger numbers that we are seeing across First Bus. 

“I’m delighted the overwhelming majority of our new vehicles will be fitted with Euro 6 engines. The advances in engineering are remarkable and our investment represents one of the most environmentally friendly bus orders ever placed. I’m proud that our Euro 6 order is the largest on record in the UK so far and will support efforts from our local authority partners to improve air quality in towns and cities across the UK.” 

Wrights Group Chairman and CEO, Mark Nodder, said: “We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with FirstGroup, and look forward to delivering more vehicles which are best in class for fuel efficiency and low emissions. This is the largest order taken by Wrightbus for Euro 6 buses, a strong endorsement of the new technology and innovative design.” 

Colin Robertson, Chief Executive of Alexander Dennis Limited, said: “We are delighted to have won this very significant order and to be continuing our long-established and thriving relationship with FirstGroup. This latest order is a huge endorsement of our new-generation, market-leading midi and double deck buses and a further demonstration of FirstGroup’s commitment to the green technologies of tomorrow. In addition, it should not be forgotten that orders like this support 2,000 ADL jobs in the UK and thousands more in our extensive supplier network.” 

Phil Owen, Commercial sales Director at Volvo Bus said: “We have worked closely with First Bus for many years and welcome their uptake of Euro 6 Hybrid vehicles. Euro 6 can make a real difference on air quality in Britain’s towns and cities, while our hybrid technology delivers significant greenhouse gas savings. We are proud to continue our relationship with First.” 

Amongst the First Bus order are: 
· Two ‘virtual electric’ (part hybrid, part electric) buses, which will enter service in Bristol from December as part of FirstGroup’s support of Bristol Green Capital. 
· Five double deck buses, scheduled to operate in Stirling, will be fitted with flywheel technology originating from Formula 1. The technology is designed to recapture energy that would otherwise be lost during braking so it can later be used to help accelerate the bus and save fuel. 

Full details of the First Bus order: Manufacturer Model Quantity
Volvo B5LH 20
Wrightbus StreetDeck 65
Wrightbus StreetLite 183
ADL Enviro 200 MMC 63
ADL Enviro 400 MMC 47
ADL Enviro 400 MMC GK 5
ADL Enviro 400 MMC Virtual Electric 2



*Green Bus Funding
First Bus’ £77.7m order includes around £3m worth of funding from the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund, Bristol City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and the DfT.

**Of the 385 vehicle order, 30 buses will feature Euro 5 engines and 355 will feature Euro 6 engines. Tests by First Bus’ manufacturing partners Wrightbus compared emissions from buses with a Euro 6 engine against buses with a Euro 5 engine. The results showed:
· a 99% reduction in Carbon Monoxide (CO) emissions
· an 87% reduction in Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) emissions
· and 87% reduction in Particulate Matter (PM) emissions.


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