Last reviewed 5 October 2021

Transport Scotland has published a new report from the low carbon consultancy Element Energy: Decarbonising the Scottish Transport Sector.

Providing an independent assessment of what policy outcomes are required in order for the transport sector to make the transition to net zero, the report is available at www.transport.gov.scot.

It calls for an end to the sale of fossil fuel powered buses in 2025 and for a retrofit program to be introduced for older buses to install zero-emission powertrains. By 2030, buses older than 15 years should have been scrapped or repowered with a zero-emission powertrain.

“Buses and coaches provide a fundamental service offering flexible transport options in a space and emissions efficient manner,” the report notes. “Bus and coach services have declined in Scotland, as well as in the rest of the UK, for several decades as the affordability and popularity of private cars has increased, directly resulting in increased emissions and congestion problems.”

Scotland already has hydrogen buses deployed and planned in Aberdeen and Dundee and electric buses deployed in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Inverness.

By contrast, however, the zero-emission coach market is under-developed with battery electric and fuel cell models in development and going through early commercial testing by Original Equipment Manufacturers, but with very limited options to purchase a zero-emission coach today.

The first and only zero-emission coach in Scotland is run by Ember between Edinburgh and Dundee.

An additional barrier to achieving deep decarbonisation of the bus and coach market is the long life of second-hand vehicles in small local fleets, which keep higher polluting vehicles on the road for a long time.

Buses on the second-hand market can be purchased for as little £25,000 and can be kept running until the bus is 20 to 25 years old.