First West of England

The biomethane vehicle will soon run on the (ahem) "Service 2" route.

In the U.K. it's becoming a civic duty to go doody, with a commuter bus sliding onto the roads that's powered by human waste.

The Bio-Bus will roll out of the garage on March 25 to service Bristol, its fuel tanks swollen with biomethane gas made from local sewage and food scraps. Though the vehicle was unveiled last year, this inaugural run provides a crucial sounding of public opinion. Its operator, First West of England, says it hopes to learn how the ride—known colloquially as the "poo bus"—"copes with the demand of a city-wide operation, and how the general public react to it."

Perhaps hoping to ease fears of a farty bus, First West is extending a half-digested carrot. It's offering a day of free fares to those living within a quarter-mile of the Bio-Bus route, which just so happens to be the "Service 2" line. Although maybe the operator owes them more than that, seeing as how it's the 32,674 households along the 15-mile route that provide the raw material for the biomethane.

GENeco

If the green (brown?) bus isn't met with a collective retch and actually attracts a decent ridership, First West says it will look into putting out more of them. The messiness of its energy source aside, that could be a good thing. The 40-seat conveyance produces 30 percent less CO2 than the standard diesel version, according to GENeco, its biomethane producer. The company says it can run for 2.5 million miles on a year's worth of waste matter from Service 2 residents, perfuming the air with "virtually odour free emissions."

The only downside I can imagine is you're still riding the bus—an uncool option for trendy environmentalists, when you realize there's already a motorcycle that's powered by farts.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?

    A lot of software developers, according to an unprecedented new analysis.

  2. A large crowd packs Independence Mall, with Philadelphia buildings in the background.
    Environment

    What Happened to Earth Day?

    In the beginning, it was a policy-shaking event that awakened a new generation of activists. But now even environmentalists have misgivings about it.

  3. Maria Romano stands behind one of her three children, Jennifer, 10, as she gets something to eat in their Harlem apartment in New York Thursday, June 3, 2005
    Equity

    Why HUD Wants to Restrict Assistance for Immigrants

    A proposal by Ben Carson’s agency would eject immigrant families from public housing to make way for the "most vulnerable." Housing advocates aren't buying it.

  4. A map of Baltimore and its surrounding leafy suburbs.
    Environment

    Every Tree in the City, Mapped

    Researchers at Descartes Labs are using artificial intelligence to make a better map of the urban tree canopy.

  5. A toddler breathes from a nebulizer while sitting in a crib.
    Environment

    How Scientists Discovered What Dirty Air Does to Kids’ Health

    The landmark Children’s Health Study tracked thousands of children in California over many years—and transformed our understanding of air pollution’s harms.