Electric buses to operate in Glasgow for first time in 60 years
Electric buses will run on a commercial route in Glasgow for the first time since the 1960s, after bus operator First Glasgow introduced two new vehicles to assist with the city's net-zero aspirations.
First Glasgow will roll out two all-electric buses on the M3 route, connecting communities in Milton and Springburn with the city centre. The launch will mark the first time electric transport has run on a commercial route since electric trolley buses were decommissioned in Glasgow in 1967.
Built by Alexander Dennis at their Falkirk factory, the buses have been funded through the SP Energy Networks’ £20m Green Economy Fund which supports Glasgow’s overarching target to become a net-zero emissions city by 2030 – 15 years ahead of the Scottish national target.
First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, said: “It is a real pleasure to see First launch their fully electric buses in Glasgow, following funding from SP Energy Networks. Scotland was one of the first countries to acknowledge that we are facing a global climate emergency and we have legislated for the most ambitious carbon reduction target of any country in the world.
“A key part of our plans is encouraging greater use of public transport as well as phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles. It’s so great to see First and SP Energy Networks playing their part in helping us to achieve our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.”
To accommodate the buses, First Glasgow will introduce 22 electric vehicle charging points in its Glasgow Caledonia Depot, with a view to introducing new electric buses in the future.
First Glasgow has invested more than £31m over a two-year period to introduce 150 ultra-low emission vehicles for Greater Glasgow, which are compliant with Euro VI emission standard. The operator is 40% compliant with the city’s low-emission zone and has retrofitted 49 vehicles to improve emissions.
First Glasgow has an overall aim to be 100% compliant with the city’s low-emission zone to at least Euro VI emissions standard by the end of 2022.
The announcement is the latest building block in Glasgow’s low-carbon transformation, with the city also set to host the UN climate summit later this year.
More broadly across the UK, plans are in place to purchase 263 new ultra-low emission buses for transport schemes across the nation, doubling the UK’s existing e-bus stock.
The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles pledged last February to invest £48m into new vehicles and infrastructure across seven towns and cities, in a drive to help the Government meet the aims of its Clean Air Strategy and Road to Zero plan.
More recently, SSE has pledged to deliver more than 330 electric bus charging points in London by April 2020. The company has delivered six projects for four bus operators over the last three years, totalling almost £7m.
SSE Enterprise’s sector director for EVs, Kevin Welstead, said: “We are proud to enable public transport to embrace the EVs transition which is key to achieving the UK Government’s Net Zero target by 2050, as well as SSE group’s own goal of helping accommodate 10 million electric vehicles in Great Britain by investing in electricity network flexibility and infrastructure.
“With increasing demands being placed on the electricity grid, our holistic approach providing an integrated platform to optimise energy load and generation, will ensure local authorities can cut toxic emissions in the most efficient and least disruptive way. Our partnership with Go Ahead is the bedrock of our drive into delivering innovative solutions to help drive decarbonise our transport.”
The wider SSE Group has made a commitment to switch its own fleet to electric and will install additional charging capacity at its offices and depots.
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Sorry, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer. We need much faster action – two buses is really disappointing. Sure, we also need to test the vehicles, upgrade electricity connections at charging points, etc., so we cannot do a mass implementation from day 1, but this initiative in Glasgow just seems far too unambitious for 2020.
I won’t push too hard that until it closed in 1962 after 90 years, Glasgow had one of the world’s largest (electric) tram networks, with over 225km of routes and as many as 1,000 tramcars…