Students and staff at the University of Stirling will be travelling in style on the ‘best buses in Scotland’, officially launched on campus today by Scotland’s Minister for Transport Derek Mackay.
The First Midland Bluebird university fleet will be among the most technologically advanced in the country. Operating with Flywheel hybrid technology to deliver a significant reduction in emissions, they also use far less fuel than a ‘regular’ bus.
Five buses in total will run on the ‘UniLink’ route serving the University and Stirling City centre. A total of £1,132,645 has been invested in the vehicles, inclusive of £196,000 support from the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund.
All five buses have been fitted with free Wi-Fi as standard to keep passengers connected on the move as well as USB ports to allow them to charge mobile devices. They also all feature leather seats for added comfort and extra room for buggies and wheelchairs.
Built by Falkirk-based manufacturer ADL, the double deck buses also feature the ‘Gyrodrive energy recovery system’. This technology harvests energy normally wasted when braking and stores it in a flywheel, which runs at up to 36,000rpm. When the driver accelerates the system works in reverse, feeding the energy into a traction motor – similar to the technology used in Formula One racing cars.
The buses also feature Euro 6 engines and 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.
Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands, joined Stirling students to give the vehicles his stamp of approval. He said: "The UniLink bus project is just one example of the ways in which the Scottish Green Bus Fund is delivering real benefits for passengers while encouraging partnerships between Government, local authorities and the bus industry. This is a clear indication of our support and commitment to encouraging cleaner ways to travel in Scotland. I am delighted to be part of this launch event today, along with First and the University of Stirling, and I hope the students who get to experience this new service are encouraged to consider greener transport options as a lifestyle choice."
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: "We welcome this investment from First Bus and from the Scottish Government in what is a vital service connecting our campus with the City of Stirling. Both the University and its Students’ Union work hard to ensure our campus is a green and welcoming environment for our students and staff and this new fleet of buses further complement our commitment to environmental sustainability."
Andrew Kinnell, Stirling Students’ Union President, added: "The UniLink bus service is highly popular with Stirling students and to know our students can commute in comfort on the best buses in Scotland is great. It will be nice to be able to charge phones and access the Wi-Fi before and after a busy day of studies."
Paul McGowan, managing director of First Midland Bluebird, said: "I’m delighted to see our new vehicles in service on campus. They are without a doubt the best in our fleet and fully support our drive to improve services and attract more people onto our buses. The advanced hybrid technology also help us to deliver significant fuel savings and reduced emissions meaning our customers will enjoy the benefits of smoother, cleaner journeys. The Scottish Green Bus Fund is helping us invest in low carbon, more fuel efficient vehicles and has been a welcome boost for the bus industry in Scotland. This is a real boost in making our bus fleet more eco-friendly."
The Stirling UniLink provides customers with services every 7-8 minutes, Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.
First Group FirstGroup plc is the leading transport operator in the UK and North America and our services help to create strong, vibrant and sustainable local economies. During the last year around 2.4 billion people relied on us to get to work, to education, to visit family and friends and much more and, each day, every one of our 110,000 employees works hard to deliver vitally important services for our passengers. Our vision is to provide solutions for an increasingly congested world… keeping people moving and communities prospering.