Regional bus operators could switch back to less environmentally-friendly fuels to avoid closures, broadcaster DR reports.
Buses in the Central Jutland region are under pressure due to a combination of low passenger numbers and rising fuel prices.
Danish Regions, the authority responsible for administration of regional bus services, last week called for state relief for the sector, estimating that one in seven regional bus routes could face cancellation if budget excesses are not addressed, the authorities said.
Regional buses are public buses that connect cities, as opposed to local bus routes which have separate operators.
The Central Jutland regional buses must make savings of 100 million kroner in the 2023 budget, DR reports.
An analysis provided by consultancy firm COWI recommends the buses switch from biodiesel back to regular – and more polluting – diesel as a cost-cutting measure.
Biodiesel prices have rocketed upwards as high gas prices – connected to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – have knock-on effects on fuel prices generally.
The Central Jutland regional bus operation expected additional costs of 7.5 million kroner annually from using biodiesel instead of regular diesel, but is actually paying an extra 19 million kroner according to DR.
HVO biodiesel, produced from non-food biowaste, is around 90 percent CO2 neutral according to Region Central Jutland information published by DR. The 10 percent which is not CO2 neutral is related to production and transport of the fuel.
“It is clear that it’s a step in the wrong direction in the climate calculation. I just think the situation is very serious and unusual. The situation is actually almost catastrophic. I think we should strongly consider going back to black diesel in 2023,” elected official Bent Graversen of the Central Jutland’s Regional Development committee told DR.
Buses on seven routes currently use biodiesel. That equates to a total of 56 buses on the regional routes, spending around 130,000 hours on the road per year.
Based on these numbers, Central Jutland Region calculations reported by DR show that switching to biodiesel gives a reduction of 3,700 tonnes of CO2 emission per year. This is equivalent to emissions caused by around 200 people in Denmark.
The municipality in Jutland town Randers is meanwhile considering a similar switch from biodiesel to regular diesel on city buses in order to save money, DR writes.
Forced to choose between running buses on regular diesel and cancelling services, the former is the better option, Aalborg University traffic researcher Harry Lahrmann told the broadcaster.
“The absolute worst thing is to close down routes because we know that when they are opened again, it’s very difficult to get passengers back. They’ve found alternatives in the meantime,” he said.
“If we can’t get more tax kroner spent on public transport, this is the second-best solution,” he said.