Vehicle monitoring gives First Group 10% fuel cost saving

When vehicle efficiency technology provider Green Road approached First Group and said they could reduce the company’s petrol consumption by 10% by fitting small movement sensors in their vehicles, the UK’s largest bus operator was sceptical. Now those sensors are in all 8,500 of First Group’s buses, and not only has fuel consumption indeed declined by 10% but small accidents and collisions have also reduced by 70%.

The Drivegreen system works by placing a GPS receiver in each vehicle, which records movements within the bus. If a driver is driving smoothly and braking gently, the light on the unit is green. If he starts to swerve or accelerate too quickly, it turns amber. If he does something that might be dangerous, it turns red.

“It sounds simple, but it means that drivers are given instant feedback on their driving, as well as providing us with quantifiable information as a business,” explains First Group’s Duncan McGraw.

In fact, the company makes the data from its receivers available to all drivers on the intranet and through a secure website, and has even gone as far as creating league tables in each depot, with cash prizes for the best drivers.

“For us, it makes total sense. Financially, the system paid for itself within two years and is now saving us money, but it’s also about enabling us to meet targets and avoid penalties,” says McGraw. “Many of the grants we receive are subject to us meeting government targets, and this gives us a great way of knowing exactly how we’re performing, as well as reducing the CO2 emissions.”

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