Katoomba’s family-owned business Blue Mountains Explorer Bus and Fantastic Aussie Tours is Australia’s first carbon neutral transport company, credited by the National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neural Program (NCOS). The 43 year-old business is reducing its carbon footprint by offsetting unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions from its mostly diesel-fuelled buses by investing in efforts to remove 100% of the carbon dioxide produced. Linda Brillante, the company’s strategist, explains that the decision was made to gain recognition from the NCOS program because of its extensive guidelines and procedures, its rigid and structured process, its comprehensive audit and exact emissions calculation from across the supply chain, encompassing every aspect of the business. “It is with great pride that we can state that we are the first transport company in Australia to be recognised as carbon neutral”.

And the accolades continue, with the Blue Mountains Low Carbon Living Program awarding BM Explorer Bus with a gold rating, acknowledging the high efficiency of the bus fleet and completing the rigorous NCOS process permitting carbon offsets for energy used by vehicles of transport companies. Program Director, Dr John Merson, revised the LCL rating system and approved a change of policy to allow for the assessment of transport companies who are making every effort to lower carbon emissions. A transport business category is now included that better reflects the emissions profile of transport-orientated businesses.

BM Explorer Bus currently has 4 red Volvo Olympian Alexander Royale double decker buses imported from Scotland, with a fifth recently purchased, 8 coaches, 20 drivers and 10 staff members. The investment in reliable Volvo engines and Scottish engineering has guaranteed high efficiency and low maintenance. Darryl Booth, chief mechanic and a partner of the business, ensures the fleet is maintained to the highest standard ahead of schedule, reducing the replacement of parts and the possibility of breakdowns. Every component is recycled, the oil is carbon neutral and metal is reused. Bus drivers are required to have regular, updated training on how to operate the vehicles efficiently, considering variations in seasonal weather and passenger load.

The company has considered environmentally-friendly alternative fuel such as Bio-Diesel, LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) but these options were not compatible with the fleet’s engines. “Electricity-powered double-decker buses may be the future, but presently it’s not a viable option”, says Linda “the durability and consistency is not evident yet”.

PowerShop provides BM Explorer Bus with 100% carbon offset energy in the depot and the shop. Natural Gas heating is used mainly in winter, and water management includes the conservation of water when cleaning the buses. The recycling of paper and cardboard reflects some of the behavioural changes among staff and food waste is nonexistent.

Other carbon reduction initiatives the company would like to implement include qualifying for a community grant from BMCC for the addition of solar panels. In the long-term, it is hoped the fleet will be replaced with electric buses.

The Explorer Bus runs 15 times a day, 365 days a year. Fantastic Aussie Tours conduct tours and holidays nationally, and internationally.