First Bus launched the roll out of the biggest zero emission park and ride fleet in the UK. The first of 21 new all-electric double-deckers enter service on the York Park & Ride network, a partnership between First York and City of York Council, starting with the Askham Bar corridor to the south west of the city.
The full order of Metrodecker EVs, manufactured by Optare in Yorkshire, will be brought into operation this summer, replacing existing diesel vehicles in an investment totalling £9.3 million ($12.18 million) and expanding the fully electric fleet on York Park & Ride to 33 buses. Each bus saves almost one kilogram of carbon dioxide emissions for every kilometre travelled, which is estimated will mean a saving of 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year when the 21-bus Metrodecker fleet is complete. These are the first new vehicles to be introduced by First Bus anywhere in the country since the company announced on July 8 its commitment to achieve a zero carbon fleet by 2035.
Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, said: “We’re proud to be the operator of the biggest zero emission park and ride fleet in the country as we continue to partner with City of York Council to improve air quality in York. This is an important stage in our shared ambition to expand sustainable transport in the city. We are determined to attract more customers to using buses and realising the real impact this has in reducing congestion, creating cleaner air and supporting the local economy, not least as York continues its revival from the pandemic.”
The buses can carry 98 passengers (currently restricted due to social distancing) and have a range of 160 miles from one overnight charge, which means they can operate on the network all day without recharging. As part of the overall investment, First York has spent £1m upgrading the charging infrastructure at its James Street depot including a new electricity sub-station.
The vehicles, which herald new-look York Park & Ride branding and feature audio visual next stop technology, USB charging points and Wi-Fi connectivity, have been supported with £2.7 million ($3.54 million) funding secured by City of York Council from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said: “It is excellent to see that York is leading the way nationally with the introduction of the largest zero emission Park & Ride fleet in the country, a key part of our efforts to improve our air quality and more widely, tackle the climate emergency. This work builds on the £1.6 million ($2.1 million) investment already made to deliver York’s Clean Air Zone, the first voluntary Clean Air Zone in the UK. The new buses will play an essential part in delivering our bus-based Clean Air Zone, whilst at the same time providing an enhanced experience for users.”
Councillor Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport said: “We are very proud that York is now set to become home to the one of the largest electric bus fleets in the country, serving a Park & Ride system that is already showcased widely as an example to others. It has been a challenging time for bus companies as they strive to help us keep our residents and their drivers safe, so we are delighted that even during this difficult time we have been able to progress this project with First York.”
Metrodecker EVs have been developed from prototype by Yorkshire bus manufacturer Optare in a partnership with First York and the city council which began three years ago. They are made and fully assembled at Optare’s factory in Sherburn, near Leeds with more than 50% of components supplied by UK businesses.
Graham Belgum, CEO of Optare plc, said: “We are very proud to continue our ground-breaking partnership with First York and City of York Council. Optare passionately believes in the role of zero emission buses in the future of public transport and we will continue to invest in developing this technology. We look forward to the successful introduction of the Metrodecker EV to the city.”
Delivery of the fleet of 21 double-deckers is expected to be completed by the end of September.