The Anonymous Widower

The Green Shift: Zero Emission Buses Could Lure Millions Onto Public Transport

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Go-Ahead Group.

These are the bullet points of the press release.

  • A majority (55%) of people are likely to travel by bus more often if buses are powered by zero-emission electric or hydrogen batteries.
  • Only a quarter of the public think bus travel in general is ‘green’. But eight out of ten view zero emission buses as ‘green’.
  • Younger people are particularly likely to be swayed in their travel habits by a switch towards low emission technology
  • Independent research carried out for Go-Ahead Group’s new Zero Emission Centre of Excellence.

This paragraph was their conclusion.

Buses powered by electric or hydrogen batteries could lure millions of additional passengers onto public transport according to new research into public attitudes towards travel.

The research was performed by independent research company; Savanta ComRes, who are described like this in Wikipedia.

Savanta ComRes is a market research consultancy based in London, England. Established in 2003 as Communicate Research Ltd, ComRes was a founding member of the British Polling Council in 2004, and is one of the UK’s best known polling companies.

To my mind this is the sort of market research, that can often shoot yourself in the foot, so because the result has been published by the company and would be unlikely to be rejected by customers, who would be unlikely to say no to a nice new bus, I think we’re seeing the truth here.

I would ask, whether the conclusions would apply to other forms of public transport like trains, planes and ships.

These figures show the percentage increase in passenger numbers at intermediate Gospel Oak and Barking Line stations between 2017-18 and 2021-22.

  • Upper Holloway – 53 %
  • Crouch Hill – 42 %
  • Harringay Green Lanes – 42 %
  • South Tottenham – 41 %
  • Blackhorse Road – 23 %
  • Walthamstow Queen’s Road – 38 %
  • Leyton Midland Road – 39 %
  • Leytonstone High Road – 40 %
  • Wanstead Park – 55 %
  • Woodgrange Park – 42 %


  1. 2017-18 is pre-electrification and Covid-19
  2. 2021-22 is after-electrification and Covid-19
  3. Pre-electrification, the trains were modern Class 172 diesel trains, with 124 seats.
  4. After electrification, the trains were modern Class 710 electric trains, with 189 seats.
  5. There were only small infrastructure changes on the route between 2017 and 2021, other than the electrification and some lifts.

The average increase in passenger numbers was 41.5 %.

I can also look at the figures for London Overground stations on the Lea Valley Lines, where forty-year-old Class 315 trains were replaced with modern Class 710 trains in 2020.

  • Chingford – -35 %
  • Highams Park – -27 %
  • Wood Street – -10 %
  • Walthamstow Central – -33 %
  • St, James Street – -13 %
  • Clapton – -18 %
  • Hackney Downs – -40 %
  • London Fields – -29 %
  • Cambridge Heath – -22 %
  • Bethnal Green – -8 %
  • Enfield Town – -35 %
  • Bush Hill Park – -38 %
  • Edmonton Green – -31 %
  • Silver Street – -25 %
  • White Hart Lane – -2 %
  • Bruce Grove – -25 %
  • Seven Sisters – -34 %
  • Stamford Hill – -21 %
  • Stoke Newington – -37 %
  • Rectory Road – -38 %
  • Theobalds Grove – -18 %
  • Turkey Street – -29 %
  • Southbury – -26 %
  • Emerson Park – -36 %


  1. 2017-18 is pre-Class 710 trains and Covid-19
  2. 2021-22 is after-Class 710 trains and Covid-19
  3. White Hart Lane is probably a low reduction because of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has increased passenger numbers.

The average decline in passenger numbers was 26.25 %.


It does appear that the figures for the Gospel Oak and Barking Line fit with Go-Ahead’s findings, that were published in their press release.

But why did the other Overground lines, which received new Class 710 trains have such a large decline in traffic?

I can postulate these reasons.

  • There was no green transition on the other lines.
  • Passengers on the Gospel Oak and Barking Line have no easy alternative form of public transport.
  • Some of the competing bus routes to the Lea Valley Lines now have zero-carbon buses.
  • Passengers don’t like the longitudinal seating of the Class 710 trains.
  • Passengers using the Lea Valley Lines are more affluent and can work from home.
  • Covid-19

It will be interesting to see how passenger numbers move in the next couple of years.

Is It Worthwhile Replacing Diesel Trains With Zero-Carbon Trains?

From the Gospel Oak and Barking figures and Go-Ahead’s press release, this will appear to be a worthwhile action.

If you get an increase in passenger numbers, when you replace the quality Class 172 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, what sort of increase would you get if you were replacing trains, that were well past their best?

Is It Worthwhile Replacing Older Electric Trains With New Zero-Carbon Trains?

The figures from the Lea Valley Lines are poor, when compared to those of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, so unless there are other reasons, it may be better to soldier on with the existing trains.


December 10, 2022 - Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Best way to attract people onto buses is to have a competitive fare system like you receive in London. I live in Surrey and the fares horrendous as im not of bus pass age yet. Im less than a mile from station and its 2.70 oh and buses packin at 2000 as well. So basically only oaps and school children use them.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | December 10, 2022 | Reply

  2. Could the fact that Class 710 have about 50% more seating than the Class 172 and have more standing room have anything to do with it?

    Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2022 | Reply

    • Possibly, but the 172s were always pretty packed.

      But it’s a 67 % swing.

      Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2022 | Reply

  3. Don’t get me started about buses and Surrey, I live in Guildford where Arriva walked away from their contract and Stagecoach have tried running a pared down service using drivers with no route knowledge and who are being shipped in from London and Swindon.

    Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2022 | Reply

    • One of my friends used to run one of the bus concessions in London (Not Arriva or Stagecoach) Very interesting to talk to, but I suspect running a concession was a very draining job. He’s now on a gap year round the world.

      I think the problems in London could be down partly to the electricity network, not being strong enough to support all the capital’s needs. Khan makes it worse by not producing a hydrogen policy.

      Looking at the spec for the latest Wrightbus hydrogen bus with my friend, it shows that they are far superior than electric, when you want to run a real service.

      London and I suspect, a large number of bus companies have a driver shortage.

      On the Underground, a proportion of the drivers are couples and TfL shift patterns are arranged to be parent friendly. This helps with the driver shortage. If you have long-range buses, you could probably make much better use of your buses and run better schedules.

      I was scheduling container ships in the early seventies and there was always problems.

      Perhaps we should have driverless trams and trains, as they’re the only ones that can be safely automated.

      Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2022 | Reply

  4. Here in Manchester Stagecoach introduced hybrid buses in 2012 and battery buses in 2019. In this picture: –
    you can see traditional diesel buses in old and new livery, a hybrid bus (dark green) and a battery bus (lime green).

    Imminent re-municpalisation of the buses has already driven First out of Greater Manchester, Stagecoach hiked fares pre-emptively and Arriva now only run five routes.

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | December 11, 2022 | Reply

  5. First got out of London’s buses, when Hendy put some professionalism into TfL.

    I was on a Manchester bus ten years ago and I was surprised at the harassment the driver got from youths mainly after the money. So I remarked to the guy next to me, that it was disgusting and we never saw it in London anymore.
    He turned out to be a bus union rep and said that they’d been asking for something like Oyster, as since it’s been on the buses in London, it’s cut attacks on staff.

    So has Manchester got contactless ticketing on the buses yet?

    They also need decent bus maps like London, so visitors can find their way around the city.

    Are Manchester’s buses two door, like London’s as this speeds up loading and unloading especially with wheelchairs and buggies.

    I was on a London bus recently where there were two big buggies in the wheelchair space.

    A guy in a wheelchair needed to get on.

    Because the wheelchair ramp is in the middle door, the buggies didn’t have to pass the wheelchair on the bus.

    The driver put the ramp down.

    The buggies were wheeled out to wait for the next bus, as the pushers knew the rules.

    The guy in the wheelchair was pushed in.

    The ramp was raised and off we went.

    It should be the law, that all buses should have two doors and a middle ramp.

    Most of London’s single deckers are also two door.

    It stops arguments.

    Comment by AnonW | December 11, 2022 | Reply

  6. Could you point me to a ‘decent’ London bus map?

    Comment by JohnC | December 12, 2022 | Reply

    • I was annoyed when TfL stopped producing physical maps showing all bus services running in Greater London and replaced them with their Spider Maps that you can find online on the TfL website. The only replacement map that seems to be close is one privately produced. It’s on sale online at
      and at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB – Tel : 0343 222 5000

      Comment by fammorris | December 12, 2022 | Reply

  7. The spider maps at individual bus stops are best, but they’re not always there and they can be a bit variable under Khan. They are available online.

    If I’m going to an area, I don’t know, I often search Google Map for where I’m going and find the bus stop I need.

    I then look up the bus routes at the stop and see where they connect to the Underground, Overground and railways.

    Comment by AnonW | December 12, 2022 | Reply

  8. Poor old Khan, he gets the blame for everything. BTW I hardly think that Hendy, whose previous job before becoming Transport Commissioner for London, was as Managing Director for First Buses London and South would be the one to cause First Bus to leave London. First simply realised there were easier ways of making a profit by exploiting the unregulated part of the bus market.

    Comment by fammorris | December 12, 2022 | Reply

  9. Yes, if he gets so involved with the day to day operations of TFL as to include decisions about bus maps I’m surprised he has the time for anything else. My request to be pointed to a ‘decent’ London bus map was a bit facetious as I know the Greater London bus maps are no longer produced by TFL. Spider maps are all very well (if a particular location has one) but do not replace the former and are even less useful since the last redesign. Thanks for reminding me about Mike Harris’ website. I need to get the latest version of his bus map as my current copy is pre-covid.

    Comment by JohnC | December 12, 2022 | Reply

  10. […] The Green Shift: Zero Emission Buses Could Lure Millions Onto Public Transport […]

    Pingback by The Green Shift: Zero Emission Buses Could Lure Millions Onto Public Transport – Ascension Tecsol Global Division of Faith Management Solutions 501c3 | December 18, 2022 | Reply

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