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Social enterprise to run longest bus route in Bristol

A social enterprise has been chosen to operate the ‘M1′, the longest bus route in Bristol.

Bristol Community Transport (BCT) started running four mainstream bus services in the city last year, under contract to the council.

The social enterprise already operates the biggest community transport network in Bristol, including minibus hires, transport for individuals and community buses.

It says it will reinvest profits made from the new bus route into community projects and transport improvements.

BCT also announced it will spend £7m on 21 ‘biogas’ buses which are fuelled by food waste and municipal sewage.

Biogas uses anaerobic digestion, which captures methane emitted from the digestion process, treats it and turns it into fuel.

More than half of biogas consists of methane and 30–45% is carbon dioxide. It also contains small volumes of water vapour, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen sulphide.

A 2016 report revealed that CO2 emissions in buses fuelled by natural gas, are, depending on the scenario, between 68-82% lower compared to diesel.

The new route will be part of the MetroBus network, a much-delayed transport overhaul in Bristol that has cost more than £230m to date. The delays have been blamed on the installation of iPoints at bus stops, which allow passengers to buy tickets before boarding.

Councillor Mhairi Threfall said: ‘Bristol Community Transport is making a significant investment and commitment to Bristol that will see benefits here for many years to come.’

Dai Powell, chief executive of HCT Group, the parent company of BCT, said: ‘As a social enterprise, we don’t have shareholders and exist for community benefit.

‘That means we will re-invest the money we make from the Metrobus into services for elderly or disabled people in the local area, which we hope will go some way towards meeting the increasing needs of these groups.’

Bus operator First West of England, which currently operates the M1 route, will contract BCT to run the service.

James Freeman, managing director of First West of England, said: ‘This is a really innovative operating model. We believe that this is the first time in England that operators have been contracted to each other in the interests of keeping things simple for the travelling public.’

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