Leicester ditches diesel buses in £22m EV shift

Wrightbus Electroliner front quarter static

The Electroliner seats 74 and is capable of driving up to 200 miles between recharges

Depot will use the new UK-built Wrightbus Electroliner, claimed to be the world’s most efficient electric bus

The UK government has announced that it will invest £3 million to purchase 18 new electric buses for Leicester.

This latest round of funding brings the government’s spending on the city’s fleet through the Zero Emission Buses Regional Areas (Zebra) scheme to £22 million and its total number of zero-emissions buses to 114.

All will be manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland and operated by First Bus.

This will make Leicester one of just four UK cities to operate an all-electric bus fleet, joining London, Norwich and York, whose switch was announced earlier this month.

First Bus plans to have added 600 electric buses to its fleet by March 2024, with 117 of these being spread across Bramley and York, Hoeford (Hampshire), and Norwich. It will pay 58% of the total cost for these non-Leicester depots, with Zebra contributing the remainder.

“Through this co-funding with the Zebra scheme, we’re excited to electrify another five of our UK depots before March 2024,” said First Bus managing director Janette Bell.

Roads Minister Richard Holden added: “Buses are the backbone of our transport network, providing affordable travel for commuters, families and pensioners and providing an economic lifeline for towns and cities around the country.”

Holden also announced the creation of the Bus Centre of Excellence, an initiative planned to improve diversity and skills in the sector. Backed by an £815,000 government grant and hosted by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), it will also create networking events for the bus industry and encourage the public to use buses more often.

CIHT president Neil Johnstone said: “This partnership, alongside other government initiatives, will see CIHT help to bring together a wide range of professional skills and knowledge from both the public and private sector to facilitate change to local infrastructure, service delivery and the sector across the country, with the ultimate aim of improving bus services.”

The new investments bring the government’s total post-pandemic spend on buses to £2 billion. A further £1bn is planned to improve the quality of bus services.

Read more: Analysis: Why the British bus industry is on the up

Source: Autocar

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