Public transport critical to economic recovery, climate change and communities, says report
Brighton & Hove and Metrobus’ commitment to its people, passengers and communities has been highlighted in a report published this week.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the company has not taken its eye off the ball when it comes to air quality, climate change and emissions, investing £10 million in ultra-low and zero emissions buses in the last year. Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses edge closer to reality on Metrobus’ Fastway services between Gatwick Airport, Crawley and Horley, with the company securing partnership funding for 20 hydrogen buses.
By December, there will be 24 new extended range electric buses running zero emissions in Brighton & Hove city centre’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone, taking the number up to 54.
Metrobus Managing Director Martin Harris said: “Public transport remains critical to environmental sustainability, economic recovery and linking communities. We have carried on running services throughout the pandemic connecting key workers, customers and communities safely. I am immensely proud of every one of our 1554 colleagues for showing such resilience and spirit and keeping these critical services going for everybody.
“Our Sustainability Report reflects this effort, as well as our commitment to providing cleaner, greener and safer journeys to passengers. We’ve kept building our relationships with local councils and community groups, listening to our customers and supporting our colleagues and our values and our mission remains the same.”
Throughout the pandemic, the bus company has supported and served communities in new ways, including changing bus timetables to align with NHS workers’ shift patterns, publishing its own online community support directory and collaborating with local people and businesses. For example, working with a local gin distillery to secure extra hand sanitiser supplies and making face coverings with fashion students at its Hove depot.
The report also highlights the bus company’s work with local groups like St Catherine’s Hospice, WORDfest Crawley and Crawley Wasps Football Club on campaigns and events, as well as donating tickets, sponsoring sports teams and fundraising in depots. Metrobus set up its Community Support Grant scheme to help local groups with grants in September 2019. Over the past year, Brighton & Hove Buses has helped 142 local groups with grants, donating tickets and fundraising in depots. It has invested £120,500 in communities, reaching 762,622 people.
The report necessarily reflects the impact of the Coronavirus on bus services, including an enhanced cleaning regime where buses are cleaned up to five times a day with hospital grade products and cleaners jumping on buses to wipe down frequent touch points.
Other safety measures have included encouraging those who can to wear face coverings, blocking off seats to enforce social distancing, setting bus capacity limits at 50% and increasing contactless payments. Less than 6% of passengers now pay with cash when they board the bus.
Key highlights 2020
- Invested almost £10m in ultra low and zero emissions buses
- Partnership funding secured for 20 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses on Metrobus Fastway services
- 54 extended range electric buses running zero emissions in Brighton & Hove city centre by December 2020
- Metrobus Community Support Grant launched
- More than £120,000 invested in communities, reaching 762,622 people
- Colleague Support Network launched
- Runner up for the ‘Top City Operator’ at the UK Bus Awards 2019
- Attended multiple community events & held depot fundraising events throughout the year