Metrobus experimenting with green fuel to reduce carbon emissions


One of the two Metrobuses which runs on dual fuel, a form of fuel that produces 90% less carbon emissions. Photo: Robyn Kirk

In a bid to save money and reduce carbon emissions, Johannesburg bus company, Metrobus has started the process of running their fleet of buses on environmentally-friendly dual fuel.

So far two Metrobus buses have been fitted with new engines that use dual fuel, a fuel that produces 90% less carbon emissions than regular diesel. Dual fuel is a mixture of natural gas and diesel. The ‘green’ buses are currently running routes in Johannesburg in order to test run the technology.

“The executive mayor [of Johannesburg, Parks Tau] is into the green concept, and wants us [Metrobus] to use alternative fuel,” said Esther Dreyer of Metrobus. “I think it’s an excellent idea.”

In addition to the two buses already on the road, a further 150 new buses using dual fuel technology will be purchased by Metrobus within the next year, the tender for which is currently being advertised.

“In this city, carbon emissions are too high and need to be reduced”

A member of the Metrobus technical team that fitted the two buses, who asked not to be named because of company policy, explained that the drive for greener fleets was for environmental and financial reasons.

Environmental and economic sustainability

“In this city, carbon emissions are too high and need to be reduced,” the technician said. “The government needs to start the initiative, and they started with us.”

“Another concern is financial. The biggest cost in transport [businesses] is diesel and tires” he added. “A lease bus needs 500 litres of diesel per tank, and diesel is currently R14 per litre – that’s R7 000 every few days.”

This is the third time that Metrobus has experimented with employing cleaner fuel methods. The first bus they purchased, which only used natural gas, was fraught with technical problems. Their second attempt with a bus using ethanol gas came to halt as they struggled to access a reliable supplier of the fuel.

It is hoped that when all the new dual fuel vehicles are operational, they will eventually half the current fuel costs for Metrobus.