Air-filtering bus to launch across six regions in the UK

Gwyn Topham
Photograph: Go-Ahead/PA

An air-filtering bus which removes pollutants from city streets while it operates is to be rolled out into six regions of the UK following a successful trial.

The bus, trialled since 2018 in Southampton, is fitted with fans on the roof that draw in air at a rate of one cubic metre per second and filter out ultra-fine particulate pollution.

The single-decker buses are expected to start operating in Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Plymouth and Crawley from this summer. Another five buses will be introduced in Southampton.

According to tests, audited by manufacturer Pall, and being assessed by the University of Southampton, the bus removed approximately 65g of pollutants from the air and cleaned 3.2 million cubic metres of the city’s air.

David Brown, the chief executive of Go-Ahead group, which owns the BlueStar bus in Southampton, said the system had exceeded their expectations and he hoped that councils would help fund more routes. The trial cost the operator about £100,000 and each bus conversion is around £20,000.

“We think it’s part of the solution [to air pollution], along with getting people on public transport anyway,” he said. The buses have the cleanest Euro VI engines, whose nitrogen oxides emissions are now less than a single diesel car, “so it’s a double-whammy,” Brown added.

“For all local authorities who have an issue with air pollution and clean air zones, I genuinely believe this is part of the solution,” Brown said. “These are small pilots, but if you could put it on every bus it would actually make a difference.”

He said the bill to convert Go-Ahead’s entire nationwide fleet would be around £100m.