We’ve already seen attempts to make bus travel more sustainable in cities around the world, from Delhi to Berlin to Jerusalem to London. While such moves may be encouraging experiments, it seems that the major vehicle manufacturers are not pulling their weight when it comes to greening their stock, at least if Brian Souter, CEO of UK bus and rail operator Stagecoach, is to be believed. The company has recently started its own biofuels trial in Scotland, using fuel made from waste feedstocks:
"The bus operators and transport groups can lean more heavily on manufacturers to be more imaginative and effective. We think that manufacturers should be spending more on research and development. Our indigenous manufacturers are doing more. We want to see some of the big boys, making some of the components, trying a bit here."
We welcome this kind of focus from a major operator like Stagecoach, but it does sound a little like Mr Souter is putting all his eggs in one basket. He roundly rejected hybrid buses, saying that the fuel savings do not justify the extra costs, and played down fears over biofuels threatening food supplies after rival operator National Express cancelled a biofuels trial due to environmental concerns:
"We don't agree with that. We were disappointed [with National Express]. There need to be clear parameters in developing countries where biofuels come from. And there needs to be an embargo on biofuel coming from rain forests."
It is great to see that Mr Souter is at least concerned about the manufacturing process of biofuels, but we would argue that any credible strategy for greening our transport must pay at least as much attention to efficiency and conservation as it does to alternative fuels. Hopefully Stagecoach is planning to lead the way on this front too. ::The Guardian::via site visit::