Coventry electric bus city project gains pace

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Mayor Andy Street, National Express CEO Alex Jensen and Cllr Jim O’Boyle celebrate 130 National Express Coventry zero-emission buses operating in Coventry as part of the All-Electric Bus City project. NATIONAL EXPRESS COVENTRY

Coventry is another step closer to its zero-emission bus goal following the delivery of 130 BYD ADL electric double-deckers

National Express Coventry now has 130 new electric vehicles in service, the latest step in a £140 million project to create the UK’s first all-electric bus city by 2025. The operator reports that its fleet of BYD ADL buses, supported by electrification specialist Zenobē, has operated over 2.5 million miles since their first introduction in August 2020, saving 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and contributing towards the achievement of the council’s objectives to reduce vehicle emissions within the city.

The overall project has been funded by a combination of Government funding and investment from National Express; in 2021 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. The latest 130 vehicles are in addition to 10 electric double-deckers introduced by National Express Coventry in 2020, supported by £2.2 million of Government funding from the Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme.

The latest batch means that 80% of the company’s fleet is now zero-emission. Councillor Jim O’Boyle, the City Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change, said: “This is great news. It’s a significant step towards the decarbonisation of the city’s transport network, building on the Council’s investment in a public chargepoint network, and our investment in new cycle routes. I’ve used the new electric buses and they’re very smart, comfortable to ride on, and, most importantly, are good for our environment.”

CEO of National Express UK & Germany Alex Jensen added: “We’re incredibly proud to play our part in making Coventry the UK’s first All-Electric Bus City. By working together with our partners at TfWM, Coventry City Council and Zenobē we have made great progress in creating a greener and more efficient public transport system for our customers. As we have some of the cheapest ticket fares in England, alongside flexible ticketing, our customers can have the confidence that they are doing their bit for the planet when they ditch the car and travel by bus.”

High level support

Roads Minister Richard Holden MP commented: “Backed by our funding, Coventry’s plans to create the UK’s first All-Electric Bus City will help connect communities across the city, helping to grow the economy whilst making bus journeys cleaner with British made buses.”

Meanwhile, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “We’re well on our way to making Coventry the UK’s first all-electric bus city by 2025. It’s great news that National Express moved ahead at pace with placing the order – getting these British made buses into service. These environmentally friendly buses will help to improve air quality in Coventry and by switching to a modern electric fleet, operators will reduce their energy costs.

“Most important of all, local people will now benefit from a quieter, smoother and more comfortable journey experience on these wonderful new buses in the months and years ahead. I look forward to seeing them in action and being a customer myself.”

Zenobē is providing Electric-Transport-as-a-Service (ETaaS) to National Express Coventry, including on-board replacement batteries, the charging and grid infrastructure system at the depot, with dedicated rapid chargers, and a software platform which helps monitor and optimise energy use, as well as parts and operational support. Co-Founder and Director Steven Meersman added: “This is an exciting day for this landmark project which shows that with government support, an ambitious operator and the right electrification partner, the switch to zero-emission can happen at scale today. Zenobē have been working with National Express since 2019, and we look forward to continuing to de-risk electrification so they can continue to decarbonise whilst providing an excellent passenger experience.”