Stagecoach has announced a multi-million-pound investment in a hi-tech eco-driving system for its bus operations in Scotland, England and Wales.
From April, some 13,800 Stagecoach drivers will start using the GreenRoad system to help reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, improve passenger comfort and cut the risk of accidents.
Stagecoach is targeting a 4% reduction in fuel consumption using the technology, which is being rolled out on its fleet of 6,500 buses outside London. It is part of the Group’s five-year sustainability strategy and follows a successful 12-month pilot programme in Cumbria.
A key element of the initiative will be an EcoDriver incentive scheme giving employees the chance to earn “green points” that are converted into financial benefits from a potential £900,000 annual bonus pot.
The GreenRoad 360 system uses a dashboard traffic lights-style system to provide drivers with real-time feedback on their driving style, including speed, braking, acceleration, lane-handling and turning.
Driving decisions are responsible for 90% of all accidents and up to 33% of fuel spend, according to research by GreenRoad.
All Stagecoach drivers already undertake a Safe, Skilled and Fuel Efficient Driving training programme as part of a Certificate of Professional Competence. The GreenRoad system incorporates online reporting, analysis and coaching to help drivers work with their managers to further improve their skills and decision-making.
Stagecoach is also one of the first UK companies to use GreenRoad’s new engine idling solution to further improve fuel performance. It is able to focus on specific vehicles or trips to identify unnecessary idling based on agreed thresholds. The sophisticated system is able to differentiate this from unavoidable idling that occurs at traffic lights and junctions.
Les Warneford, managing director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “We already invest millions of pounds a year in driver training and new vehicles to offer our customers greener, smarter travel and ensure our drivers provide passengers with safe and comfortable journeys.
“We have worked closely with our employees and trade unions to develop a system that is easy to use and will also reward excellent driving by our driving team. It will help deliver further benefits for our customers, reduce wear and tear on our vehicles, cut the cost of accidents, and help limit the impact of our operations on the environment.”
Frank Llewellyn, Stagecoach National Liaison Committee secretary for Unite, said: "We've worked closely with Stagecoach and GreenRoad on ensuring we get the right set-up for the system, which we believe can bring benefits to both the company and drivers. As well as leading to better fuel economy and less insurance claims, there is a good financial incentive for drivers, with the potential to earn a Christmas bonus of up to £65."
Stagecoach conducted a pilot project for 90 drivers using 60 buses at its depot in Barrow, Cumbria, from February 2010, which delivered improved fuel consumption. At the same time, the average vehicle miles without an accident rose from 29,400 to 58,000.
Aidan Rowsome, general manager, GreenRoad Europe, said: “We started closely working with Stagecoach three years ago. The company’s depot managers and drivers have been instrumental in directing the development of the service with feedback on features and ease-of-use.
“Stagecoach has invested much time and effort in evaluating various driver safety options. Its due diligence and commitment to excellence will pay dividends with a rigorous methodology for rolling out and using GreenRoad’s service as well as union buy-in and a driver incentive programme.”
Stagecoach Group’s sustainability strategy is targeting an overall reduction of 8% in buildings CO2 emissions and a cut of 3% in annual fleet transport CO2e emissions by April 2014. The company, which has already received the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard, is investing £11million in a range of measures to improve the performance of its bus and rail operations in the UK and North America.
It is leading the UK with the introduction of green hybrid electric buses, which produce 30% less carbon emissions than standard vehicles. Around 120 hybrid electric vehicles costing a total of nearly £33 million are either in service or on order for Stagecoach bus networks across the UK.
Stagecoach Group is also working with other major public transport groups in the UK on a major campaign to encourage people to make less use of cars and switch to sustainable bus and coach travel instead. The Greener Journeys campaign is targeting one billion fewer car journeys over the next three years. The target could be achieved by switching one in 25 journeys by car to bus and coach, delivering a huge reduction in carbon emissions.