Bus Drivers to Step off the Gas; New Traffic Light System in Bus Cabs Will Monitor Fuel Efficiency Levels

Article excerpt

ARRIVA bus drivers are being encouraged to step off the gas to help save the environment.

The company is in the middle of a programme of introducing almost 200 new vehicles to Merseyside equipped with a new EcoManager system, at a cost of pounds 28m. But the equipment is not designed to improve engine performance in a technological way - it''s all about enhancing driver techniques.

The EcoManager is a dashboardmounted LED display which flashes through red, green and amber depending on the level of fuel consumption being expended. With improved awareness, drivers can maximise the amount of time their buses run while showing green.

Trials began at the Runcorn depot initially in 2007 and over the study period showed a 10% enhancement of fuel efficiency.

Training begins with a video presentation and a coaching session to familiarise drivers with the system. Drivers get a monthly print-out showing their performance compared to both the depot average and the best performing driver. Individual follow-up training is available to support those who need it.

During 2008, the trial in northwest England was widened to 500 buses, and results indicated an overall fuel saving of up to 12%. Based on this experience, the company has decided to roll-out the system more widely across its UK regional bus operations. It hopes to achieve fuel savings of 5% to 10%.

For fleet management, the system's "black box" produces detailed reports enabling comparison between different vehicles on the same route, different driving styles in the same vehicle and a particular vehicle type's performance on different routes. Passenger research also points to improved customer satisfaction as a result of smoother acceleration and braking.

Arriva UK Bus managing director Mike Cooper said: "It's vitally important to conserve fuel as much as possible so we can deliver value-for-money local services and for the environmental benefits it brings. …