The ‘world’s first’ retrofitted electric-powered double decker bus has begun operating in York, where more electric park & ride buses have also been introduced to reduce the council’s fleet emissions.
The 15-year-old sightseeing double-decker was converted to run on a fully-electric system after City of York council was awarded £75,433 by the Department for Transport (DfT)’s Clean Bus Technology Fund in 2013.
And, it has also been confirmed that the council has been awarded another £475,000 to work with transport company Transdev on the conversion of the remaining five sightseeing double decker buses from diesel to electric.
According to the council, the buses will be converted from diesel to pure electric with lithium ion batteries, similar to those used in mobile phones, which will “significantly improve the travelling experience for passengers with noisy engines replaced, whilst also improving the air quality in York”.
York council said the conversions would result in a reduction in annual operating costs for each bus of between £15,000 and £20,000, while eliminating 535kg of nitrous oxides from each bus every year.
It takes eight hours to charge each bus, which will then be able to travel for around 90 miles before needing another charge. The council said the buses could therefore travel all day without the need to charge.
Alex Hornby, Transdev’s managing director, said: “This pioneering, 100% electric open-top double-deck bus is just one example of Transdev’s innovative approach in terms of leading technology and partnership effort – in this case with our colleagues at City of York council, City Sightseeing and the manufacturer MAGTEC.
“The project is great news for our customers, the local environment and all those who reside in and visit the great city of York. As well as offering zero emissions, the bus offers a beautifully smooth ride and is refreshingly quiet, ideal for our guided tour operations in the city.”
Neil Ferris, assistant director of transport, fleet and waste at City of York council, added: “York is again leading the way in improving air quality and bus travel. We’re the first city in the world to launch a new fleet of electric double-decker City Sightseeing buses, which supports our Low Emission Strategy – the first city to be adopted in the UK.
“This will provide residents and tourists with a better use of transport and improved air quality, which is an important issue in York.”
Park & Ride buses
Meanwhile, the number of electric single-decker buses operating in York has expanded further, with the news that six new electric buses have been introduced on the city’s Monks Cross Park & Ride route this month.
Bus operator First Bus was awarded around £566,000 towards the fleet by DfT’ s Green Bus Fund, while local business Optare, based in Sherburn in Elmet near York, was then procured to manufacture the new electric buses.
The buses are charged up during the day using rapid chargers at the Park & Ride terminal, with each charge enabling a range of 120 miles per day.
It means there are now 13 electric buses operating in York, including six on the Poppleton Park & Ride route and six on the Moks Cross Park & Ride route. Another electric bus operates on the Unibus route.
Andrew Bradley, sustainable transport manager at City of York council, said: “Over four-million passenger journeys are made on York’s Park & Ride every year, making this one of the most used Park & Ride services in the UK. As well as reducing congestion on York’s roads, these new fully electric buses replace existing diesel buses and therefore represent a further step towards improving air quality in the city.”
Business manager of First in York, Will Pearson, said: “This latest investment of nearly £1m in electric vehicles demonstrates our commitment to further improving bus services in York, supporting communities, the local economy and the environment by lowering air emissions & reducing congestion.”
Chief executive of Optare plc, Enrico Vassallo, said: “There are over 80 Optare electric vehicles now currently in service across York, Harrogate, London, Nottingham, Coventry, Scotland, Switzerland and Holland and we anticipate the fleet at Monks Cross will also prove to be another example of electric vehicles delivering a commercially viable public transport solution.
“As the leading manufacturer of electric buses in the UK we are particularly proud to be able to contribute to improved air quality in our local area by supplying buses that are running on local routes to where they are manufactured in Sherburn in Elmet near York.”