Next year, 130 zero-emission double decker buses will be introduced to National Express Coventry’s fleet. The move comes as part of a £140 million project to make Coventry the UK’s first all-electric bus city.
National Express Coventry has ordered the brand-new zero-emission buses to enter into service in early 2023, in order to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions in the city.
Last year, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), secured £50 million funding from the Department of Transport to ensure every bus in Coventry is zero-emission. Now, under a deal with TfWM, National Express Coventry is making an additional multi-million pound investment into the All Electric Bus City project with the purchase of the 130 new buses. The company is set to order further buses at a later date.
Similar agreements with other bus companies and those running subsidised services are likely to follow, with the aim of putting up to 300 electric buses on the streets of Coventry, guaranteeing an all-electric fleet by 2025.
In addition to new electric vehicles, TfWM is also working with Coventry City Council to create the necessary charging infrastructure to power the new buses. This will include upgrades to bus depots and charging points at Pool Meadow Bus Station.
“It really is incredibly exciting to think next year we will have 130 all-electric buses on the streets of Coventry thanks to the deal we have signed with National Express. These clean and green double decker buses will not only be fantastic for passengers with their comfort and state-of-the-art technology, but it will also help in reducing air pollution and tackling the climate emergency,” said Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA.
“Buses are the backbone of transport in the West Midlands, and a key part of the public transport revolution we have been undergoing in recent years.”
Indeed, with the upcoming changes, new and current bus users will enjoy a smoother, greener, more inclusive transport experience with improvements in accessibility, as well as better comfort and information while on the move.
“We are really looking forward to launching 130 more of our fully electric buses into service early next year on the way to making Coventry the UK’s first all-electric bus city. Ten of our existing electric double decker buses have already driven over 850,000 miles and saved 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide from going out into the atmosphere. Hundreds more of these zero-emission buses are now on their way,” said David Bradford, Managing Director of National Express Bus.
“By working together with TfWM and Coventry City Council we are committed to driving improvements for our customers, as well as contributing to huge health and mobility benefits for people right across Coventry.”
The 130 new zero-emission buses will enter into service in early 2023.
National Express Coventry has been operating 10 fully electric buses across the city since summer 2020. In 2019, Coventry City Council was awarded £2.2 million from the government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme to fund the 10 new electric buses and supporting infrastructure.
Each of the 10 buses can charge up in four hours and can run for over 170 miles in the summer or over 135 miles in the winter before needing another charge. The bus company’s depot near Pool Meadow Bus Station has solar panels fitted that harvest renewable energy during the day and help to recharge the electric buses overnight. Further upgrades to bus depots and charging points at Pool Meadow Bus Station are to come.
Coventry depot engineers can monitor, using an app, the buses’ performance in real time. Drivers also receive specialist training to drive the electric buses given that they behave differently to combustion engine-driven buses, learning how to preserve the bus’s charge for as long as possible and so extend the range of the vehicle.
“Confirming the order of 130 of these state-of-the art buses – which will be here by early 2023 – is fantastic for local people, for business in the city, and most importantly, for our efforts to lead on the green industrial revolution and cut our carbon footprint,” said Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change, at Coventry City Council.
“We are very proud to say that Coventry will be the country’s first all-electric bus city.”