Thursday 2 February 2023

Stagecoach & Go-Ahead Order 159 Electric Buses for Oxford

The first vehicles in a fleet of 159 new battery electric buses are set to arrive in Oxfordshire in September, after an £82.5 million deal was sealed.

Last March, Oxfordshire County Council was awarded £32.8 million from the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme.

Along with £6m from the council itself and £43.7m from bus companies Stagecoach and the Go-Ahead Group, which includes the Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel, and City Sightseeing Oxford, the scheme will deliver the electric buses and the infrastructure to charge them.

Following the signing of contracts between the bus companies and the manufacturers, and the council’s approval of trial traffic filters in Oxford to help reduce bus journey times by at least 10 per cent in the city, confirmation of Oxfordshire’s ZEBRA scheme has now been finalised.

Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “This is a huge boost in the move towards creating a sustainable, decarbonised public transport system, and improving air quality.

“We believe that, along with other schemes proposed in the county, this new fleet of electric buses will transform our public transport system and encourage more people to travel by bus.”

Stagecoach has placed the first order for the manufacturer’s next-generation battery-electric buses, taking 55 Enviro400EV double deckers.

Stagecoach are the first customer to place a firm order for the new battery-electric double decker fully designed and built by Alexander Dennis.

The new Enviro400EV is a completely newly designed bus from ADL. Previously ADL have partnered with BYD to produce the BYD ADL range of electrically powered vehicles which have been best sellers since their introduction

Part of the next generation of Alexander Dennis zero-emission buses, the Enviro400EV is a battery-electric double decker to move large numbers of people on busy urban corridors and interurban expresses with an operational range of up to 260 miles on a single charge. Passengers will benefit from smooth rides and an improved lower deck seating layout.

The Enviro400EV uses a Voith Electrical Drive System next-generation electric driveline as well as the future-proof Alexander Dennis battery system, which ensures continuity of supply throughout vehicle life and will allow Stagecoach to benefit from technology advancements at a mid-life refresh without the need for vehicle modifications.

Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director for Stagecoach West, said: “We're excited to be announcing this major milestone for Oxfordshire, which will be a major step forward in improving air quality across the region. This builds further on the major investment being made by Stagecoach across the country to support the transition to a zero emission bus fleet.

"We look forward to working with our local authority partners on their plans to further decarbonise the city, which will help us to speed up journey times and attract more people out of their cars and on to reliable, sustainable public transport services."

The Go-Ahead Group has placed orders with Wrightbus for 104 brand new zero emission buses, which will appear on the Oxford's streets later this year.

The deal is Go-Ahead’s biggest electric bus order to date, adding to the group’s 350-strong fleet of plug-in buses across Britain, and is a further step towards a goal of a zero-emission fleet nationwide by 2035.

Above & below, a Wrightbus GB Kite Electroliner single-decker

The Go-Ahead order is made up of 99 StreetDeck Electroliner double-deckers and five GB Kite Electroliner single-deckers. Of the former, eight will be open-top for use on City Sightseeing work in Oxford

The buses will be manufactured in Northern Ireland by Wrightbus, and all vehicles will be fitted with free customer WiFi, at-seat USB chargers and audio-visual next stop announcement systems as standard.

The open-topped vehicles will support the company’s popular City Sightseeing tour route, and once all buses are in service all local bus routes wholly within the Oxford urban area will be converted to zero-emission operation.

Go-Ahead is investing more than £30 million in the buses, alongside funding from Oxfordshire County Council and from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme. This is part of a total package of £82.5 million of funding for 159 buses for operators in Oxford, which will become one of Britain’s leading electric bus cities.

The buses are part of a package of improvements for bus travellers in Oxford. Passengers will also benefit from speedier journeys with the installation of several new traffic filters in the city, an expanded zero emission zone and through additional bus priority schemes implemented by Oxfordshire County Council.

Wright StreetDeck Electroliner

The buses will save an estimated 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking more than 3,900 cars off the road.

Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “This ground-breaking plan and significant investment will radically improve air quality in Oxford. We look forward to continuing to work with key partners to deliver this ambitious project, which will make bus travel an even better option for getting around our city."

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “We want to see a better bus network around Britain and that means reliable, affordable, clean buses, and we will do everything possible to decarbonise our transport network and support skilled jobs in next generation bus manufacturing across the UK.

“We’ve already invested hundreds of millions of pounds to kick-start the rollout of zero emission buses nationwide, and it’s great to see Oxfordshire County Council, Stagecoach and Go-Ahead Group making use of our funding to transform its fleet to electric. This move will boost UK manufacturing, drive down emissions and improve bus services for people across the region.”

SL15 ZGF A diesel powered Wrightbus Streetdeck in service in Oxford
Diesel powered buses will disappear from the city streets when the new electrically
powered vehicles arrive.

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, Oxford City Council, said: “Air pollution is a major cause of poor health in Oxford and cleaning up our bus emissions is an important step towards better air quality for everyone who lives, works, and visits Oxford.

“Buses are a vital part of how many people travel around Oxford, especially the 30 per cent of Oxford residents who do not own a car. Let’s not underestimate the importance of the county’s proposed congestion-busting traffic measures in giving the bus companies the confidence to invest in these electric buses. Hopping on a brand new electric bus, with free WiFi and stop announcements for the partially sighted, will make bus travel a much more attractive option for everyone.

“We are looking forward to seeing these new buses on Oxford’s roads as part of a zero emission bus network. It all helps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and fulfil our aim of cutting the city’s carbon footprint.”

Transport is the largest contributor to nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions in Oxford, accounting for two thirds of the total emissions, with both diesel cars and buses contributing to roughly one third of the transport emissions each.

The arrival of the 159 electric buses is expected to support a further drop in NOx levels that will help clean up Oxford and Oxfordshire’s air pollution, reduce noise pollution and help make Oxfordshire a net zero carbon county well before 2050.

Oxfordshire was one of only 12 local authorities to successfully apply for ZEBRA funding and is one of the biggest schemes in the country.

All the new buses are being manufactured in the UK and are expected to arrive by March 2024. It will be one of the largest orders outside London and will mean that most services across the Oxford Smartzone will be operated by battery electric buses.