Inspiring Business by Sharing Success



Lincolnshire businessman Terry O’Halloran is on a mission to encourage towns and cities to take a greener route to achieving zero emissions.

With a passion to see action taken countrywide, he also believes Lincoln is the ideal city to show the way.

Now the former chartered financial planner and one-time RAF engineer is keen to discover the views of people living in the city and county.

Mr O’Halloran, who is the brains behind the embryonic company Multibus Ltd, shared his ideas and reasoning having already spoken to The City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire County Council.

Multibus Ltd believes the installation of overhead power lines (catenary) for use by buses and coaches would be a power-saving, eco-friendly, financially-sound move, which would also create a boost for mechanical engineering companies.

The Halton-trained engineer, whose 12-year RAF career culminated with the servicing of Vulcan bombers at RAF Waddington, has also sought guidance from the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce and mechanical engineering experts.

That has led him to patent mechanisms which would allow the random connection and disconnection of an In Motion Charging (IMC) mechanism – designed to be retrofitted to the existing local fleet of 10 to 15-years-old hybrid buses. This would turn them into zero-emission vehicles in the city centre, whilst they would use battery or diesel power in suburban and rural areas.

“Euro five/six diesel engines are far more efficient than their previous incarnations. As such they could be used with great success as an interim mechanism over the next decade or two whilst production of the super-efficient successor buses takes effect,” said Mr O’Halloran.

“In the UK, the Department for Transport defines a bus as a double-decker vehicle. A single decker is described as a “coach.” There are some 38,000 buses and 19,000 coaches currently in public service in the UK.

“I wonder how long people think it would take to manufacture and totally introduce the use of environmentally friendly buses and coaches,” he queried.

“Current figures reveal that manufacturing capability within the UK over the last decade tops out at 852 vehicles a year. People can easily do the arithmetic to see how many years it would take to replace 38,000 buses.

“A bus’s advantage over a coach is its footprint. Comparing the two vehicles over the same amount of road (based on their underlying chassis), reveals that a bus can seat 70 to 80 passengers and a coach 35 to 45, yet their comparable running costs are not significantly different.”

Using Multibus’ vision (as a consultant design company) would mean initially retrofitting buses with a universal roof platform accommodating twin connecting poles. The poles would automatically connect and disconnect to the overhead catenary to provide IMC charging to drive the vehicle and trickle charge its on-board batteries.

“By taking the existing 10- to 15-year-old hybrid fleet, retrofitting vehicles with a universal standard IMC platform and refurbishing them to  new fit standard, the cost and time saved would equate to the production of seven vehicles (including the infrastructure) for the price of one new bus,” said Mr O’Halloran.

“A new bus costs anything from £450,00 to £600,000 and perhaps 1,000 a year could be produced. I anticipate that some 7,000 – the total current hybrid fleet – could be retrofitted and back in service within a period of one to three years of starting the programme.

“Lincoln has the ideal topographic profile to be a proving ground for my theory. It is also has technologically based companies capable of developing and manufacturing the underlying parts and the processes required to create an initial fleet of 25 buses, coupled with 8.5 to 10 miles of overhead catenary.”

The estimated cost of £30 million is less than 10 per cent of Lincolnshire County Council’s reserve funds and the IMC facility would extend to the bypass junctions for each route.

“Once in operation, the system could be compared to the introduction of the Azuma train to Lincoln to King’s Cross’s direct services, operated by LNER. That train runs on diesel to Newark before connecting to the high-speed overhead electrics to London” added Mr O’Halloran.

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