Gas-power! Your questions answered

We know people will have many questions about gas power. Hopefully you can find your question answered below in our FAQs.

What is CNG?

CNG stands for Compressed Natural Gas - this is naturally occuring gas that is mainly composed of methane and then compressed to around 1% of its volume. It’s basically the same as you use to power the gas rings on your cooker.

Why gas?

We have always been passionate about being pioneers in new bus technology at Reading Buses – the chip fat bus, natural gas first time around, bio-ethanol and hybrid. We aim to use this new (to the UK) technology to help improve Reading’s air quality as it’s a very environmentally friendly fuel and with future plans in place to use biogas, also very sustainable!

How good are they for the environment?

These state-of-the-art buses are powered by compressed natural gas, a much cleaner fuel that produces no particulates (no soot, in other words), no hydrocarbons, virtually zero carbon and drastically reduces the amount of nitrogen oxide (55% less) put into the air. That’s got to be good for the air in Reading.

Is gas a new technology?

No, gas is nothing new. The first gas bus was produced in the 1920s. It is now used extensively in Sweden, Australia, Iceland and Norway as well as having quite significant pockets of usage in many other places worldwide - most people will probably have seen one on holiday without realising! It is a proven technology which uses the most CO2 friendly fuel available.

Do the buses smell?

No! Although it’s run on compressed natural gas (CNG) which has a smell, the buses do not emit any smell from the exhaust when they are running. You won’t smell anything from the gas tanks either, the same as you wouldn’t smell diesel from any other bus engine.

Are the buses noisy?

No, these gas buses are much quieter and smoother on the road than conventional buses.

Are the buses/gas canisters safe?

Yes! Our supplier, Scania, conduct extensive safety tests, including drop and crash tests. They also do bullet and grenade tests just in case! So don't worry, you are perfectly safe hands.

Will the buses explode if there is a problem?

No. CNG is actually less flammable than any of the conventional liquid fuels, such as petrol or diesel. It also burns quicker, meaning if there was an issue, it would do less damage to the bus itself.

Does gas cost less than diesel?

The price of gas is slightly cheaper than diesel but you use slightly more of it.

Where is the gas stored on the bus?

The gas is stored in 8 composite gas tanks which are on the roof. They contain enough room for 1200 litres of gas.

Where are the gas buses from - are they British made? 

The chassis kits (including the engines) are shipped from Sweden and then are assembled in Leyland Lancashire and the bodies are built by Alexander Dennis (ADL) in Falkirk, Scotland. So whilst not 100% British, we are still keeping a lot of the work inside the UK.

Where does the gas come from?

When the first gas buses start in May 2013 buses will be fuelled by compressed natural gas (CNG) delivered to site in a tanker, which of course is much the same as we do with our diesel buses! From August we will draw gas supplies direct from the mains. Work is being undertaken at our depot in Great Knollys Street to provide a link from the mains direct onto our premises. This will supply Reading Buses’ own compressor that will feed the storage tanks that will be used to fill our buses. 
We purchase our gas through the Gas Bus Alliance which sells “virtual” bio-methane produced from renewable resources, including cow poo! The Gas Bus Alliance will remotely inject an energy equivalent volume of bio natural gas (BNG) into the National Grid network to balance the gas taken direct from the mains and compressed by Reading Buses. The supply of bio-methane will be tracked by either Green Gas Trading’s Biomethane Certification Scheme or the Renewable Energy Association’s Green Gas Certification Scheme and will therefore qualify for carbon neutral status.

Are there any health and safety implications for engineering working on gas buses?

To make sure it is safe to complete any servicing work to the buses within the engineering workshop modifications have been made. A galvanised metal roof mounted canopy has been installed in the engineering workshop to make sure that if any gas escapes it is taken out of the building. It looks a lot like a giant cooker hood! The canopy has an in-built fan which senses if any combustable gases are detected and automatically switches off once the gas has gone.  A special scaffolding platform has also been built to allow engineering to work on the gas tanks.

Are these buses accessible for all?

Of course! As with all our buses, the CNG vehicles will be low-floor with the ability to be lowered closer to the pavement and will all be fitted with wheelchair accessible ramps. All 20 buses are also fitted with the latest audio and visual announcements which tell customers the next stop from inside the bus. Following a successful trial on the pink routes, there is also an external announcement which announces the bus destination when the doors open at each bus stop – which is fantastic news for visually impaired people.