Together In Electric Dreams

Together In Electric Dreams

Published Monday, 10 August 2020

Coventry City Council has welcomed a sneak preview of National Express Coventry’s first fully electric buses, ahead of their official launch in service later this month.

Cllr George Duggins with Cllr Jim O'Boyle

​​​​​​On Sunday 30 August 2020, National Express Coventry will launch the electric double decker buses into service on the 9/9A route to carry customers between University Hospital and Finham, via Coventry rail station and Coventry Pool Meadow.

During a tour of the bus operator’s city centre depot, Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council and Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, enjoyed a short trip on one of 10 brand new electric buses.

In 2019 Coventry City Council was awarded £2.2 million from the government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme to fund the new electric buses and supporting infrastructure. 

Working closely with National Express Coventry, these next generation vehicles form part of the local council’s wider plans to help improve air quality across the city.

David Bradford, Managing Director of National Express UK Bus, said:

“Earlier this year we announced that National Express had bought its last ever diesel – and as a leading transport company it is our aim to have a zero emission bus fleet from 2030, and white coach fleet by 2035.

“We’re very proud that National Express is bringing fully electric buses to the people of Coventry. By working together with Coventry City Council we are determined to improve bus services and drive down pollution and emissions which contribute to poor air quality and climate change.

“Buses are already one of the cleanest ways to travel. Through working together in the West Midlands Bus Alliance partnership and Coventry City Council, we’ve retrofitted our older buses with new exhaust systems, meaning the air coming out of them is cleaner than the air going in – and since 2015, we’ve bought only the cleanest diesels on the market.

“And now we’ve got fully electric buses. The feedback from our customers elsewhere has been really positive so we are really excited to launch them in service here in Coventry. As well as being great for the environment, they come with all the top-spec kit our customers expect from our Platinum buses – extra space, USB chargers and free wi-fi.”

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said:

“As part of our local air quality plan Coventry City Council is keen to embrace new technologies and make improvements that have a long lasting impact on those that live and work here, as well as those that visit our great city.

“A key part of our plan is working together in partnership with bus companies like National Express Coventry to make our public transport network better, greener and cleaner.

“The new electric buses look fantastic and with no emissions they are much better for the environment. I am looking forward to seeing them out in service on the 9 and the 9A from the end of this month.”

He added: “Coventry already has one of the largest networks of electric vehicle charge points in any city outside London, the introduction of electric taxis and buses onto the city’s streets, as well as the electric fleet programme which allows small businesses to try out electric vans. The roll out of electric double decker buses is helping us to build on this work.”

Built in Britain by Scottish manufacturer Alexander Dennis, Coventry’s own electric buses follow hot on the heels of 19 others that were launched in service on National Express West Midlands’ number 6 route between Birmingham and Solihull just last month.

Bus drivers have to be specially trained to drive 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.

Each of the 10 electric buses has a dedicated rapid charger installed at the depot. The buses charge up in four hours, and can run for 250 kilometres before needing another charge. They also have a new dashboard system which engineers can use to monitor the buses’ performance from screens up in the depot or from their laptops. 

Coventry City Council