Eight electric buses have commenced operations in Milton Keynes today as part of a pilot project supported by the UK Department of Transport assessing the viability of electricity-powered vehicles in public transport.
The buses, covering the number 7 bus line in Milton Keynes will run a 17-hour daily service and are expected to drive more than 56,000 miles a year each. The operations of the UK’s first fully electric bus line will be carefully monitored and evaluated after a five-year trial period to see how electric buses perform compared with their diesel predecessors.
"These ultra-low emission buses will offer the travelling public a quieter, smoother journey as well as cutting carbon and improving air quality,” said transport Minister Baroness Kramer launching the project on Thursday. “This project represents a fantastic opportunity to learn more about extending the future capability and roll-out of electric buses."
The vehicles are able to recharge their batteries wirelessly during their working day, with charging plates set into the road transferring power directly to receiving plates underneath the bus.
"Wireless charging can bring electric buses in from the cold, and potentially put them neck-and-neck with their diesel counterparts," said Professor John Miles of Cambridge University, an Arup consultant and director of the Milton Keynes electric bus programme.
The project is a joint venture between the UK Department of Transport, Milton Keynes Borough Council, design engineering consultancy group Arup and the enabling company Mitsui. The team believes the project, serving as a test bed for assessing the viability of low carbon public transport, could inspire other towns and cities not only in the UK but around the world.
"A shift to greener modes of transport benefits the whole city and could in turn provide a template for other councils to use. Route 7 buses carry nearly 800,000 passengers each year, so it's the perfect way to really put electric buses through their paces," Milton Keynes council leader Andrew Geary concluded.