Animation of electric bus charging

Newport welcomes Wales’ first electric bus

Image credit: Dreamstime

Starting from this week, Newport will become the first city in Wales to run fully electric zero-emission buses on a permanent basis.

The city, along with Cardiff and Caerphilly, won funding from a UK government grant scheme to promote greener public transport, following electric bus trials in Cardiff that began in 2018.

By April 2020, Newport will receive 14 more single-decker electric buses, making up 15 per cent of operator Newport Bus's fleet, Cardiff will receive 36 and 16 will go to Caerphilly.

The bus, scheduled to run starting from this week, can travel 116 miles (187km) on one charge, which the company says will be “more than enough for a day’s driving”. It will then be charged overnight at its Newport depot.

Morgan Stevens, operations director at Newport Transport, said: “It improves the quality of experience the passengers will have on the bus.

“It’s a lot quieter – there’s a lot less noise, a lot less vibrations on the engine – which will improve the passenger experience on short and long-distance journeys.”

The company’s managing director Scott Pearson described the opportunity as “massive”.

“The Welsh Government has already declared a climate emergency [and] there are a number of poor air quality zones in Newport that need to be addressed,” he said.

“So the first electric vehicles are going to go on one of those routes – that’s Caerleon and back – that’s got three poor air quality zones in it.”

In June, the Welsh government announced that its M4 relief road project – aimed at reducing congestion along the stretch of motorway around the city – had been scrapped.

This axed project cost taxpayers £114m since 2013 before it was abandoned – including £44m on a public inquiry that found in favour of the relief road.

The two reasons given by First Minister Mark Drakeford for rejecting the relief road were the damage it would cause to the environment and the costs involved - estimated at more than £1.4bn.

After the decision was announced, Newport council revealed it would have access to a £1bn borrowing facility to improve transport infrastructure around the city.

“With the M4 relief road now not being built, I think bus can offer that alternative of mass transportation and if we do it with electric vehicles, it ticks so many boxes,” Pearson added.

“We can carry up to 70 or 80 people on a double-decker. I think it will hopefully reduce the congestion in Newport.”

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