City’s first electric buses bring cleaner, greener travel to Leicester

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11 Yutong E12 have entered service on Leicester Park & Ride routes thanks to a successful bid for government funding

A fleet of electric buses powered by 100% renewable energy replaced Euro VI diesel vehicles on Leicester’s three Park & Ride routes on Monday 24 May. The buses operate on the routes linking Meynell’s Gorse, Birstall and Enderby with the city centre, in the first phase of a £50m project that could see electric buses rolled out to a third of the city’s network by 2024.
Bringing cleaner, greener and zero-emission public transport to Leicester for the first time, the £5m buses will also provide commuters and shoppers with a quick, quiet and comfortable journey to the city centre. People waiting for the bus will benefit from real-time arrival information and smart new bus shelters – while new bus priority measures introduced over the next 18 months will help ensure a smooth journey for passengers.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Thanks to our successful bid for government funding through the Transforming Cities Fund, we’ve been able to make this significant investment into sustainable public transport. We know that if we are to persuade people to leave their cars outside the city centre, we need to offer them attractive and affordable travel alternatives.”
Leicester’s Park & Ride services are run jointly with Leicestershire County Council and operated by Roberts Travel Group, which has installed a new charging station at its depot in Coalville in partnership with Zenobe Energy. The buses are charged overnight and operate all day on a single charge. Managing Director Jonathan Hunt said: “I am really pleased that Roberts Travel Group will be the first operator in Leicester to operate fully electric buses. I am extremely proud that our loyal team of drivers will continue to drive the very best vehicles available, as we continue to invest in the latest technology for the people of Leicester. After working on the project for the last 18 months, it is fantastic that we will see these vehicles in the city.”

The Park & Ride service costs £3 return for a family/group ticket and is free for concessionary bus pass holders. The service is currently subsidised so that health workers can travel free of charge until further notice.

Leicester’s successful bid to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) has funded most of the £7.1m required for 18 new electric buses. As well as the 11 new Park & Ride buses, four electric buses will be introduced on the Hospital Hopper routes in the autumn, while three electric buses will operate on a brand new city centre shuttle service from autumn 2022. The TCF is also funding the £7m required for complementary works, such as bus priority measures, bus shelters, digital ticketing and real-time displays, as well as the creation of two new electric bus park & ride sites at Beaumont Leys and the General Hospital.

Deputy City Mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “The ultimate goal of the Greenline Electric Bus Project is to improve public transport and local air quality by introducing zero-emission electric buses across the city. The next phase of the project is to secure funding that could allow up to 100 more electric buses to be purchased for Leicester.
“We’ll be working closely with local operators and the Department for Transport to support the introduction of electric vehicles across commercial routes in the next two to three years. We’re also excited that the £13.5m redevelopment under way at St Margaret’s Bus Station will see Leicester become home to the UK’s first carbon neutral bus station. The Greenline project is just part of our ambitious programme of investment in sustainable transport – practical action that will help us address the urgent climate emergency we are all facing.”

The Yutong E12 buses, fitted with 422kWh water-cooled batteries, have been supplied and completed internally by Pelican Bus and Coach in Castleford, West Yorkshire. The Greenline electric bus project is part of Leicester City Council’s ambitious £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport that’s backed by £40million from the TCF. The package of work will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, education, or other facilities that support the city’s growth, and help to deliver on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and healthy living commitments.

Match funding is being provided through the city council, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), local bus operators and other partners.