Stagecoach, the UK’s biggest bus and coach operator, is marking Scottish Climate Week with a plan to cut tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions a year from its business as it targets a zero emissions bus fleet by 2035.

Investment in clean technologies, including new electric buses, are expected to deliver an estimated annual reduction of around 67,000 tonnes of CO2e from its fleet of more than 1,200 buses in Scotland in less than 15 years.

According to Zero Waste Scotland, the average annual carbon footprint per person in Scotland is 13 tonnes of CO2e. This means Stagecoach’s plans are the equivalent of reducing the environmental impact of more than 5,000 Scots to zero.

Stagecoach services are already helping households across the UK reduce their carbon footprint by offering more sustainable travel. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that without Stagecoach bus services, there would be an annual increase of around 190,000 tonnes of CO2e through people using alternative transport, mainly cars.

The latest Stagecoach targets and commitments are part of the company’s new sustainability strategy Driving Net Zero: Better Places to Live and Work, published in advance of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November. Stagecoach is aiming to decarbonise its business by around 70% by 2035 as well as targeting a zero emissions bus fleet across the UK by that date.

The roadmap to becoming a carbon neutral business will see investment in new zero-emissions fleets and other green technologies over the next 15 years to reduce the impact of the company’s operations on the planet, as well as initiatives to cut waste, boost recycling and conserve water.

A £21.4m fleet of 46 new fully electric buses is being introduced by Stagecoach in Aberdeen, Perth and Kilmarnock this year as part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus scheme. It follows the UK’s first fleet of six fully electric buses serving rural communities which went into service earlier this summer under a partnership between Stagecoach and SP Energy Networks, connecting villages along the Irvine Valley with Kilmarnock town centre.

Stagecoach has already been converting its existing vehicles to make them greener in advance of the transition to electric and other zero emissions technologies. The clean air retrofit programme has seen over a third of buses in Scotland retrofitted with either Euro VI or new exhaust systems, both of which mean they have 95% less emissions that standard buses. Stagecoach is also working with the manufacturing sector on how to use clean technologies that are applicable to coaches, which operate on longer routes not currently suited to electric vehicles.

Separately, five Scottish Citylink coaches in east Scotland have been fitted with new solar panels which provide clean solar energy to power all on-board electrical equipment. This reduces the requirement to create electric energy via the burning of diesel, a move that is estimated to save up to 7,500 litres of fuel and over 20 tonnes of CO2.

Investment is also being made in Stagecoach buildings and depots across Scotland, with 11 depots around the country fitted with hi-tech energy management systems to control heating and help reduce gas and heating oil consumption.

Under the latest plans, by 2027 Stagecoach energy management systems will meet the international standard ISO 50001 and it will also be procuring all electricity from 100% renewable sources from April 2022. As a result, annual carbon emissions from Stagecoach buildings in Scotland are expected to reduce by 40 tCO2e a year from 2027.

Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “There has never been a more important time to take action to address the climate emergency and play a part in helping Scotland deliver on its net zero ambitions.

“Our plans start with improving the sustainability of our own business. But we can also leverage the power of public transport focus on our plans to create a greener, smarter, safer, healthier and fairer Scotland.

“Making net zero a reality – and quickly – is about more than just switching technologies. We also need to change how we travel, moving people away from cars to walking, cycling and wheeling, and public transport.

“This needs strong and brave leadership from national and regional governments to create incentives to reward the right choices. We also need to make sure the country’s transport infrastructure is prioritised for people, such as bus passengers, whose are contributing to a cleaner and healthier country.”