National Express have introduced their first fully electric buses onto the streets of the West Midlands, with ten set to be in service in Coventry by Autumn.
Pictured: The West Midlands’ first electric bus, seen in Birmingham.
National Express West Midlands, the region’s public bus provider, is making good on its promise never to buy another diesel bus.
The company’s first fully-electric double-decker bus left their Yardley Wood garage to carry passengers on Solihull last week, soon followed by 19 other electric buses now based in Birmingham.
National Express West Midlands now has the largest low-carbon fleet of buses outside London.
Come Autumn, ten more will be arriving from a Scottish manufacturer to National Express Coventry, and will be immediately out in service helping Coventrians get around the city in a greener way.
Tom Stables, managing director of National Express UK, affirmed that zero-emission is not the future – it is the here-and-now.
“Earlier this year, we announced that National Express had bought its last diesel. Our bus fleet will be zero-emission by 2030, and our white coach fleet by 2035.
“For four years, we’ve been working as part of the West Midlands Bus Alliance to tackle climate change and improve air quality. We’ve retrofitted nearly a thousand older buses with new exhaust systems, and since 2015, we’ve bought only the cleanest diesels on the market.
“And now we’ve gone all out with these beautiful buses which are fully electric – even the heaters run off the battery. They cost more than a Rolls Royce Phantom, and as well as being great for the environment, they come with all the top-spec kit our customers expect from a Platinum bus – extra space, USB chargers and free wi-fi.
“We’re very proud that National Express is bringing fully electric buses to the people of the West Midlands.
“I’d like to thank all the drivers, trainers, engineers and managers who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make this happen.”
Bus drivers have to be specially trained to drive the new electric buses. The vehicles behave completely differently to combustion engine-driven buses, and drivers have to drive to preserve the charge for as long as possible and extend the range.
Engineers too have been trained in a whole new kind of maintenance.
National Express’ 80-year-old Yardley Wood garage has also been retrofitted with a shed-sized battery, a charging station for each bus and a system so engineers can monitor the buses’ performance.
The buses charge up in four hours and can run for 190 kilometres before needing another charge.
National Express West Midlands was awarded £3 million by the government in 2016 to help fund the extra cost of an electric bus and the necessary equipment, and the bus company has also invested £11 million in the project.