Passengers have begun to travel on the first of 30 new Volvo BZL Electric double-deck buses – the first of their kind to be delivered into a UK customer’s fleet – as part of the largest investment in Cambridge’s bus network in a decade. The new vehicles will help to tackle air pollution and encourage more people to travel by bus.
The zero tailpipe emission buses are being introduced into service between 14 May and mid-June, across multiple Park and Ride sites. At this point the five Cambridge Park and Ride and Citi 2 services will be fully electrified, and Stagecoach’s Cambridge bus fleet will be 31 per cent electric.
The launch of the vehicles took place in Duxford on 12 May, signifying a major milestone in the commitment to a rolling bus replacement programme to replace 30 vehicles a year across the Combined Authority area, with an ambition to convert the region’s entire bus fleet to zero emission vehicles by 2030.
From left - Cllr Rosy Moore, Gwen Jones Operations manager of Stagecoach, Steve Zanker Commercial Director of Stagecoach, Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, Cllr Ian Bates, Rachel Stopard Chief Executive of Greater Cambridge Partnership and Cllr Tim Bick
Each vehicle has been funded by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), Stagecoach East and the Department for Transport following a successful bid to the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme.
Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, said: “It’s fantastic to finally see these buses in Cambridge. This is a landmark moment for our bus network, and these 30 electric vehicles are marking a turning point for public transport in the region.
“Removing 30 diesel buses from our historic city and replacing them with these new vehicles will not only have a positive impact on the health of our region by reducing air and noise pollution, but will also help in the broader fight against climate change as we embrace these new and exciting technologies. I look forward to seeing these buses on our roads and to the next steps we will be taking to ensure that all buses and taxis operating within the Combined Authority area are zero emissions by 2030.”
Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, said: “Everything about the design, build and specification of our new 100% electric buses is premium, and these first 30 vehicles are ready to deliver the cleanest, quietest, and most comfortable journeys of any vehicle in the Stagecoach East fleet. For the local community and drivers alike, they mark a real upgrade in service, and we are confident they will play a key role in supporting Stagecoach East’s ambitious sustainability goals.”
Cllr Elisa Meschini, Chair of the GCP’s Executive Board, said: “This new fleet of vehicles is a major step forward in transforming the bus network and demonstrates our collective commitment to improving journeys and tackling the climate challenge.
“We hope these cleaner, greener vehicles will encourage more people to get out of their car and take the bus to work, school or to see friends – helping to cut congestion and improve air quality to make our city a better place to live, work and visit.”
Darren Roe, Managing Director at Stagecoach East, said: “Cambridgeshire has always led the way when it comes to encouraging a greener and cleaner approach to transport. That’s why we're thrilled that this fleet of electric buses will give people a greener way to travel. It means nearly a third of our Cambridge fleet is now electric. It’s a big investment and part of Stagecoach’s sustainability strategy as we work alongside councils and other partners to decarbonise our nationwide bus network and transition to a 100% electric bus fleet by 2035. Everyone who switches to zero emission buses is doing their bit to tackle air pollution and helping to cut carbon emissions across our communities."
The Volvo BZL Electric buses provide a fantastic passenger experience, with zero tailpipe emissions and near-silent journeys. Drivers will also benefit from a calm and quiet workspace, which reduces stress and improves comfort, aided by a world-class ergonomic design and logical layout.
Volvo’s chassis makes the most of the smooth electric propulsion, resulting in less vibration when driving. Plus, for residents and business situated along the routes, they benefit from cleaner air and reduced noise.
The driveline has been developed entirely by Volvo using the Group’s breadth of experience in zero tailpipe emission technologies, including for trucks, construction equipment, marine and industrial power units. It uses a 200 kW electric motor coupled to a two-stage automated gearbox, which increases wheel torque at low speed and evens out current peaks, thereby reducing energy consumption and sustaining motor and battery health. This ensures optimum performance for Stagecoach East’s busy operations.
Like the Volvo BZL Electric single deck buses already in service within other parts of the Stagecoach operation, Volvo Buses has worked in close partnership with MCV Bus and Coach to develop the aluminium double-deck bodywork for the new range, tailoring it specifically for UK fleets.
To accommodate its expanding fleet, Stagecoach East is also investing £2 million into charging infrastructure for its Cambridge depot, to provide smart charging overnight.