Galway City will be at the forefront of replacing existing public buses with new green hybrid vehicles by Bus Eireann this year.
Speaking before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications Networks, CEO of Bus Éireann Mr Stephen Kent said that they are beginning the process of switching to hybrid vehicles in town and city services.
That shift towards greener buses will start in Galway in the next few months he said.
“We are beginning the process of switching to hybrid vehicles in our city and town services very soon and that will start in Galway over the next couple of months.”
For travel on longer routes, Bus Éireann is exploring hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and investing in Euro VI diesel vehicles Mr Kent said.
“By 2030, half of our fleet will be zero emissions and all diesel vehicles will be at least of Euro VI engine emission standard, which have up to 90% lower emissions than some of our current diesel fleet.”
“We need multi-annual funding commitments to continue. We see them as being critical in ensuring we can deliver on these targets.”
Mr Kent told the Committee that while Bus Eireann transported 89.4 passengers in 2019, that number dropped significantly in 2020, creating financial difficulties for the company.
“It forced us to take some very difficult decisions on a number of our commercial services,” he said.
“We had to do that to protect the remaining network in the longer term and continue serving more than 150 communities which rely on our Expressway services.”
Bus Eireann is currently operating on temporary support for the next three months under the commercial bus operator direct award contract Kent said, but long term funding commitments are needed in order to ensure all routes and services are protected.
More than one million people travel for free on Bus Eireann, a number which is expected to grow as Ireland’s population continues to grow, and get older he said.
The public transport operator also took more than 120,000 young people to school in the 2019/20 year, as part of the school transport scheme operated on behalf of the Department of Education.
And while this was also affected by COVID-19, demand for the scheme has been growing in recent years.
Mr Kent said that other areas where Bus Eireann needs a commitment for long term investment in line with the 10 year National Development Plan is to with with new infrastructure being introduced to move transport away from reliance on the car, such as Bus Corridors.