A fleet of electric buses, powered by 100% renewable energy, will replace diesel vehicles on Leicester’s three park & ride routes this week.
Eleven brand new buses will operate on the routes linking Meynell’s Gorse, Birstall and Enderby with the city centre, in the first phase of a £50m project that could see electric buses rolled out to a third of the city’s network by 2024.
Bringing cleaner, greener and zero-emission public transport to Leicester for the first time, the £5m buses will also provide commuters and shoppers with a quick, quiet and comfortable journey to the city centre.
The distinctive green buses – equipped with on-board digital screens and USB charging points at every seat – will also provide passengers with free WiFi.
People waiting for the bus will benefit from real-time arrival information and smart new bus shelters – while new bus priority measures over the next 18 months will help ensure a smooth journey for passengers.
City Mayor, Peter Soulsby, said: “Thanks to our successful bid for government funding through the Transforming Cities Fund, we’ve been able to make this significant investment into sustainable public transport.
“We know that if we are to persuade people to leave their cars outside the city centre, we need to offer them attractive and affordable travel alternatives.
“These Greenline buses are clean, green and comfortable – and the more people use them, the more we can reduce congestion and improve air quality in the city.”
County council leader, Nick Rushton, said: “City and county councils working together to deliver the Green Agenda locally is a great example of how we can make life better for our residents and businesses. Decarbonising transport and investing in electrified buses is the future and it will massively contribute to the reduction of our carbon footprint and our aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.”
Roberts Travel Group has played a key role in the electrification project, installing a brand new charging station at its depot in Coalville in partnership with Zenobe Energy. The buses are charged overnight and operate all day on a single charge.
Managing director, Jonathan Hunt, said: “I am really pleased that Roberts Travel Group will be the first operator in Leicester to operate fully electric buses.
“I am extremely proud that our loyal team of drivers will continue to drive the very best vehicles available, as we continue to invest in the latest technology for the people of Leicester.
“After working on the project for the last 18 months, it is fantastic that we will see these vehicles in the city from Monday.”
The buses – manufactured by Yutong, the world’s leading supplier of electric buses – have been supplied by Pelican Bus and Coach.
Ian Downie, Head of Yutong Bus, explained: “ The project has delivered these 11 vehicles, with the associated charging infrastructure upgrades during these very difficult times we have all experienced. It is the absolute credit to Roberts Travel, Leicester City Council, Zenobe and ourselves that this has been delivered on time and on budget.
“The vehicles were fully completed in the UK at the Pelican premises in Castleford, with driver and engineering training completed with the excellent team at Roberts. We are delighted to see these vehicles entering service in Leicester, improving the air quality and the passenger experience, whilst encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto public transport.”