John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
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.
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.