“It’s a fantastic idea, I say – powering a bus with poo, who’d have thought?”
The soft West Country burr belongs to Maisie, a 30-year-old nurse travelling with her toddler, Josh, and three bags of shopping. Squirming out of his mother’s grasp, Josh presses his face to the window as we pass rows of Georgian terraces and graffiti-speckled tower blocks.
This is Bristol, and while the surroundings are typical of many British cities, our 41-seater bus is unique. Not due to its sleek design or humorous exterior – though it’s certainly turning heads as we drive past the harbourside – but because the aptly named No 2 bus doesn’t use electricity or oil: it runs entirely on human faeces.
The Bio-Bus, to use its official name, is powered by, well, gas – extracted from the sewerage works at nearby Avonmouth, then purified and enriched to form a super-clean source of fuel. It’s just one of many sustainable initiatives happening in Bristol ahead of the city’s turn as European Green Capital 2015.
“I’ve always used the No 2, so the poo bus makes the trip a whole lot more exciting,” says Maisie. “And it’s good for the environment on top of that.” Most importantly for her and other Bristol residents, tickets to the Bio-Bus are the same as a normal bus fare. “It doesn’t even smell!”