A partnership between Oxfordshire County Council and bus operators has launched one of the biggest UK fleets of electric buses.
The £82.5m project will deliver 159 battery buses on to the roads of Oxford with the first having gone into service. It has also funded two associated electric charging hubs at the city’s bus depots.
The bus fleet has been funded through a collaboration between the county council and Oxford Bus Company, owned by The Go-Ahead Group, and Stagecoach.
The council was awarded £32.8m from the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme and contributed £6m directly, while bus operators invested £45m.
The county council has committed to help reduce bus journey times by at least 10% in the city to ensure the investment is viable for bus operators.
Oxford Bus Company will deliver 104 electric buses into service and Stagecoach 55. Working with Zenobē, a fleet electrification specialist, Oxford Bus Company has installed 104 charging points at its Cowley House depot, with Stagecoach installing charging points at its Network Oxford site.
The charging hubs are powered by EDF Energy’s Oxford Superhub network, providing enough electricity to charge all 159 buses, enough for each bus to drive up to 200 miles per day.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport Management, said: “I’m proud and thrilled that the county council is backing its ambitions with political and financial capital, alongside our partners, to deliver a safer, cleaner, greener, better county for residents and visitors.
Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “Decarbonising buses is an exciting project – and we have demonstrated that with the right strategic partnership working between the public and private sector, we can unlock investment to make it happen. We look forward to working with Oxfordshire County Council on important initiatives going forward to encourage people to travel by bus.”
Matt Carney, CEO of The Go-Ahead Group’s bus division, said: “These new buses in Oxford will form Go-Ahead’s biggest fleet of zero emission buses outside London. The project is an example of bus operators working closely with local authorities to deliver for communities.”
Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director of Stagecoach West, said: “We must all play our part in improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions in all areas of business and industry across the UK. I hope the introduction of these new electric vehicles will entice new passengers to bus travel and those already travelling with us can rest assured they’re already making a great choice.”
Roads Minister Guy Opperman said: “Zero emission buses are vital for cleaner local travel, with 159 new UK-built electric buses coming to Oxford thanks to government funding – supporting skilled UK manufacturing jobs.
Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, Oxford City Council, said: “Electric buses not only help to clean up Oxford’s air but they are a crucial mode of transport in our city – especially for those who do not have access to cars. I am looking forward to seeing these buses on our roads.”
Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Wrightbus, said: “We’ve created the most efficient vehicles by combining optimum power with a class-leading rapid charge, meaning our electric buses spend more time on the road than any other. We’re confident passengers in Oxford will enjoy the experience.”
Marianne Costigan, Head of Private Wire at EDF Renewables, said: “Our Energy Superhub Oxford network already serves EV drivers in the local area at Redbridge Park and Ride charging locations. We are delighted to now be delivering the necessary energy infrastructure to support Go-Ahead, Stagecoach and their passengers as they supercharge Oxford towards its decarbonisation goals and improve air quality.”
Image from Oxfordshire County Council