TfL awards deal for London’s first all-electric bus route

Bus operator Arriva has been awarded a contract by Transport for London (TfL) to operate the 312 route from Croydon to Norwood, which will become the first route in the capital to be operated entirely by electric buses.

The new contract with Arriva, which already holds the existing contract to operate the 312 route, will commence in September 2015, with a date for the route’s full conversion to electric buses to be confirmed later this year.

A total of seven electric buses will run on the 312 route under the deal

A total of nine electric buses will run on the 312 route under the deal

The firm currently operates two Optare MetroCity electric single deck buses on route 312, which is estimated to be used by around 4,700 passengers each day.

According to TfL, the existing two electric buses have been used as an initial test to establish whether the technology could “stand up to the rigours of operating in an intense urban environment such as London”.

Talks are currently underway with bus manufacturers over adding a further seven electric buses to the route, which TfL says will offer much lower noise and vibration levels as well as lower maintenance and running costs for the operator.

The electric buses also have zero tailpipe emissions, which TfL said would improve air quality on the 312 route and contribute to the London Mayor’s proposals for an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London from 2020.

Announcing the contract award this week (March 2), TfL’s director of buses, Mike Weston, said: “This is an exciting new milestone for our bus fleet, which is already one of the cleanest in Europe. We currently have eight electric buses in our fleet and as this number grows we are learning more about this new technology, which alongside other measures like retrofitting older vehicles with enhanced exhaust systems and continuing the expansion of our hybrid fleet, continues to contribute towards our strategy to further reduce harmful emissions from the capital’s bus fleet.”

TfL has a total of six Optare electric buses – four operating on route H98 (between Hayes End and Hounslow) that entered service in July 2014 and two on route 312 that entered service in December 2014.

Two additional electric buses manufactured by BYD operate on route 507 (Waterloo to Victoria) and 521 (Waterloo to London Bridge). They entered service in December 2013.