First Bus has commenced work to transform its Roundtree Way depot in Norwich to house a fully electric fleet as it prepares to receive 70 brand new electric buses as part of its nationwide decarbonisation plans. The new Wrightbus buses are scheduled to arrive between autumn this year and March 2024.
Working with Norfolk County Council, an investment of £14.7m has been secured from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) fund, alongside capital investment of around £22.5m from First Bus, to enable the scheme to go ahead. The introduction of the new bus fleet will mean that over half of the Norwich network operated by First will be electric, equating to over 60% of all bus journeys through Castle Meadow in the city centre.
To mark the start of construction, representatives from Norfolk County Council joined First Bus’ East of England Managing Director Piers Marlow and Decarbonisation Delivery Director Faizan Ahmad at the depot on Thursday 13 July. Piers commented: “This is an exciting project that will make a significant improvement to the journey experience for our customers and to the local environment with the arrival of 11 single-deck and 59 double-deck electric buses. A major transformation of our depot has started, and we are working closely with the site construction team to minimise any disruption to our day-to-day requirements to operate bus services efficiently.
“There are exciting times ahead for public transport in Norwich, and I am pleased that First Bus is leading the way and part of this extremely important partnership with Norfolk County Council. Their commitment and focus on improving bus provision in the area is commendable.”
Graham Plant, Cabinet Member for Highways, infrastructure and transport at Norfolk County Council, said: “This work is an extraordinary boost to our ambitions to run a net-zero transport system in Norfolk and with the start of this work, we’re proud to be able to say that Norwich will soon have one of the biggest full electric bus depots in England outside London. The support that First bus has shown in bringing these vehicles to Norwich demonstrates the excellent working relationship we have with our bus operators here in Norfolk and how working together can help to achieve the very best for our county and the people that live, work and visit Norfolk.”
Decarbonisation Delivery Director Faizan added: “The beginning of the work to electrify our Roundtree Way depot in readiness for the arrival of the new electric fleet later this year is a major milestone on the journey to bringing zero emissions vehicles to the Norwich network. We are proud to be working with trusted contractors and our Local Authority partners to deliver this programme.”
Michael Doherty, Managing Director at Stonewood Electrical Ltd, said of his firm’s involvement: “Stonewood Electrical is proud to be part of this project continuing our work with First Bus in its mission to become a zero-emission national bus fleet operator. The completed project will provide cleaner air, green growth and improve public transport and health for the people of Norwich.”