STAGECOACH is to continue its journey down the green highway after vowing to invest £70 million in hundreds of new "eco" buses.
The Perth-based transport group said the planned investment programme would take place over the coming financial year.
About 420 buses and coaches will be ordered, although the company has yet to provide details on which vehicle manufacturers stand to benefit.
Recent similarly sized orders by Stagecoach would suggest that local bus builder Alexander Dennis stands to benefit from at least part of the latest investment.
Falkirk-based Dennis, which was brought out of administration in 2004, is at the forefront of environmentally friendly bus design.
Stagecoach said each of the new buses would meet new European emission standards that are due to come into force at the start of September.
Les Warneford, head of Stagecoach's UK bus operations, said the group was committed to reinvesting its profits "to deliver greener, smarter bus travel".
He added: "This planned multi-million-pound investment will bring significant benefits to passengers and the environment in local communities where we provide bus services.
"These buses have some of the cleanest engines in Europe and this investment will support our drive to reduce the carbon footprint of our business."
A spokeswoman said the company had seen greater demand for its value services, such as Megabus.com which offers journeys from 1, while a recent survey showed travelling by bus can be up to 80 per cent cheaper than commuting by car.
Stagecoach's bus empire spans more than 100 towns and cities across the UK. Its 7,000-strong fleet carries some two million passengers a day.
Last week, the group boosted its Stagecoach North-West arm with the acquisition of Preston Bus for an undisclosed sum. The deal came just a month after the Scots firm bought Eastbourne Buses, based on the south coast of England.
Last year, Stagecoach increased its bus passenger numbers by about 4 per cent, although the company has not been immune to the economic slowdown.
In December, chief executive Brian Souter said a rising tide of commuter job losses would hit this year's earnings.
He described the short to medium-term outlook for Stagecoach's UK rail operations, which include South West Trains and the East Midlands franchise into London's St Pancras International, as "challenging".
THE new buses and coaches due to be ordered by Stagecoach will meet the latest European emissions standards, which define the acceptable limits for new vehicles' exhaust emissions and come into force on 1 September this year.
Standards are regulated separately for light-duty vehicles – cars and light vans – and for heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks and buses.
The main effect of the "Euro 5" standard is to reduce the emission of particulate matter from diesel cars from 25 milligrams per kilometre to just 5mg/km.
Heavy-duty vehicles have to adhere to the separate Euro V emission standard.
An even tougher "Euro 6" standard should come into force in 2014.