Saturday 29 November 2014


FirstGroup are to introduce revolutionary virtual electric buses to Glasgow

- First Glasgow to invest £7.4m in 47 state-of-the-art green vehicles
- Four virtual electric buses to enter service in Scotland for first time
- Scottish Government Green Bus Fund provides support worth £1.3m

 ADL Virtual Electric above & below
First Glasgow, Scotland's biggest bus company, confirmed that it will invest around £7.4m in 47 state-of-the-art green vehicles, with additional funding worth £1.3m for the vehicles secured from the Scottish Government's Green Bus Fund.

The order includes a £2m investment in four 'virtual electric' vehicles that run emission-free 70% of the time, and 30% on hybrid power.

The virtual electric vehicles will operate emission-free in crowded, inner-city environments and use hybrid technology to recharge while in less densely populated areas, thereby reducing significantly kerbside emissions.

Falkirk-based manufacturer Alexander Dennis has won the contract to build the virtual electric vehicles, which will come fitted with free wifi and leather seats as standard, and are expected to be introduced into First Glasgow's fleet in 2015.

First Glasgow will also order a further 43 'green' vehicles worth almost £7m. These are in addition to the 40 StreetLite Micro Hybrid vehicles, one of the world's most fuel efficient buses, which started carrying customers across First's operations in Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire during the Commonwealth Games.

First Glasgow's investment in these brand new buses will bring spending on new vehicles in just two years above the £37m mark to a total of 226 new buses - all fitted with free wifi, leather seats and extra room for buggies and wheelchairs.

Fiona Kerr, First Glasgow's managing director, commented: 'The order of these brand new 'green' buses supports our determination to improve services and attract more people onto our buses.

'We are hugely excited at the prospect of welcoming Scotland's first virtual electric buses into our fleet next year.

'This is very welcome news for customers travelling with First Glasgow. I'm very confident they'll enjoy the benefits of smoother, greener journeys.'

She continued: 'Our StreetLite Micro Hybrid vehicles have been well received by customers since their arrival ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and we look forward to introducing a further 43 fuel efficient buses into our fleet.'

Ms Kerr also recognised the contribution from the Scottish Government's Green Bus Fund. She added: 'The Scottish Green Bus Fund is a fantastic initiative and has helped First Glasgow and other operators invest in greener, more fuel efficient vehicles.'

Announcing the Green Bus Fund Awards today (22 October) Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
'This fund is helping our bus industry invest in the latest emission reducing technology and is another clear indication of our support and commitment to the bus industry in Scotland.

'The Scottish Government is committed to public transport and to our ambitious climate change target of reducing carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020.'

The Minister also announced support worth £196,000 to First Scotland East, First Glasgow's sister company. First Scotland East trading as First Bluebird will invest a total of £1,132,645 in five Enviro 400H Flywheel hybrid buses.

Glasgow's pioneering virtual electric buses will be charged at each end of the route using wireless inductive charging.

First Glasgow's virtual electric vehicles are part of the European Union ZeUS project which demonstrates low carbon bus solutions in 8 locations across Europe. Project partners include ADL, SPT, SSE and Strathclyde University.


More bus gates planned for Glasgow city centre

Glasgow City Council has identified two new locations for controversial bus gates.
Traffic would be limited on Renfield Street and Oswald Street.
A bus gate at Nelson Mandela Place was introduced in June, earning the council at least £80,000 in two months in fines for motorists who drove through it.
The report estimates that if the measures were introduced, city-centre traffic would fall by 9% but general traffic journey times would increase.
The council's transport strategy, which has not yet been approved, aims to identify problems and solutions for travel in the city centre.
Poor air quality was cited as a consistent issue, while poor conditions for cycling, quality of public transport provision and traffic demand issues were also mentioned.
The 10-year plan for city centre transport includes the proposal for new bus gates, tested using transport modelling, which could be in place in the next two years.
Traffic would be limited on the main north/south bus routes through Renfield Street and Oswald Street in the city centre.
Traffic levels Bus gates ban private vehicles from travelling through certain areas at particular times of the day. They improve journey times for buses and taxis and can reduce the number of cars and improve the local environment.
The report also suggested six locations to be designated as "avenues", described by the report as "a network of high quality streets that support a range of functions and access by a variety of modes of transport".
The chosen areas are Sauchiehall Street, Candleriggs, George Street (via George Square), West Campbell Street and West Nile Street, due to their "existing character, levels of traffic, ability to connect across the city centre and links they provide to key locations in the city centre".
The introduction of avenues may include the removal of car parking spaces "to allow the widening of footways and introduction of cycle facilities", according to the report.
Proposed cycle routes include Candleriggs, George Street (via the north side of George Square), Miller Street, Sauchiehall Street, West Campbell Street and West Nile Street.
'Circuitous' travel Other key suggestions in the report include the implementation of a series of cycle routes through the city centre, the investigation of a 20mph zone in the city centre, and consideration of ways to introduce a low emissions zone.
The strategy aims to "discourage trips through the heart of the city centre by making through-routes more circuitous and less appealing to drivers."
Councillor Alistair Watson, executive member for sustainability and transport, said: "The city centre transport strategy is about getting more people into the city by improving transport links, making it easier for them to reach the city's main shopping areas and for businesses to attract customers.
"It will reduce the number of car journeys across the city centre, not necessarily reduce the number of car journeys into the city.
"By reducing congestion and making it easier to travel into the city centre, the strategy will help boost Glasgow's economy and the continued growth of the retail sector, as well as reduce pollution."
Air quality A spokesperson for First Glasgow, the city's biggest bus operator, said: "We very much welcome the city council's approach to prioritising public transport in the city centre.
"Measures like bus gates not only reduce congestion and improve air quality but also help support bus operators in providing a smoother, quicker and stress-free means for our passengers to get from A to B.
"First Glasgow is also committed to playing its part to improve air quality across the city and is investing around £7.4m in 47 state-of-the-art green vehicles, supported by the Scottish government's Green Bus Fund.
"We will also introduce virtual electric buses to our routes for the first time next year that will operate emission-free in crowded, inner-city environments and use hybrid technology to recharge while in less densely populated areas, significantly reducing kerbside emissions."


Blackpool trams have been using Brush single deck 631 for driver training recently, and Ken Jones managed to see it as it returned to Starr Gate.