Go-Ahead opens Zero Emission Centre of Excellence

Go Ahead Group opens Zero Emission Centre of Excellence

Go-Ahead Group opened its Zero Emission Centre of Excellence on 8 December. The facility will consolidate expertise from the group’s bus operations across the UK and further afield and it will develop best practice in buying, running and maintaining zero-emission buses.

The Centre of Excellence is headed by Go-Ahead London Engineering Director Richard Harrington. It is located at the operator’s Merton depot. Mr Harrington says that it will “develop solutions to challenges such as equipping depots, buying buses, managing battery life and training drivers.”

He adds that Go-Ahead will also explore how it can open depot charging infrastructure to third-party fleet operators. Such an approach is currently under trial by First Glasgow and delivery company DPD to increase utilisation of that equipment.

Among the first work commissioned by the Centre of Excellence was research around whether people would use buses more often if services are provided with zero-emission vehicles. Results show that 55% of respondents would be likely to do so.

Go-Ahead says that the finding “raises the prospect of a significant increase in bus travel as the UK’s 30,000-strong fleet transitions from diesel to electric or hydrogen power.” The research has also shown that while only 26% of the public view bus travel as being ‘green’, that figure increases to 81% when they are specifically told that the bus they use is zero-emission.

Young people are “particularly likely” to have their travel habits influenced by a switch towards zero-emission technology, Go-Ahead adds. For those aged under 35, the proportion of respondents who would be more likely to travel by bus in the knowledge that zero-emission technology is used rises to 66%.

Speaking about the research, Go-Ahead Director of Strategy and Transformation Louis Rambaud says: “These findings show that zero-emission buses are a gamechanger. If we can demonstrate to the public that buses are green, we can persuade millions of people to leave their cars at home in favour of public transport.

“And this reinforces the value of public sector support for investment in zero-emission buses – including the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas scheme.”