Orkney’s first electric bus enters service

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Passengers had the chance to travel on Orkney’s first fully-electric bus when it started running on the Kirkwall Airport route on Monday, May 25.

Orkney Islands Council took delivery of the new Optare Solo SR in April after it was awarded full funding for the vehicle from the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland. Since then the bus has been out and about for driver familiarisation and based at the Stagecoach’s Hatston Depot for mechanic training.

When fully charged, the bus has a range of around 70 miles. It is expected to make five round trips on the 12-mile airport route before returning to base for a charge-up. During this time, the current diesel JetBus will operate on the Kirkwall-to-airport route. A rapid-charger due to be installed later this summer is expected to reduce the charge-up period to two-and-a-half hours.

£97,560 was awarded to the Council from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Green Bus scheme, along with £132,000 from Transport Scotland’s Future Transport Low Carbon Vehicle Fund.

OIC’s Transport Manager, Laura Cromarty, said: “We were delighted to receive 100% funding support for the electric bus.

“We’re very pleased to see it going into service on the airport route. It’s a great demonstration of the council’s commitment to reducing consumption of fossil fuels by making use of something Orkney has in abundance – locally-generated renewable energy.”

Orkney Area Manager for Stagecoach, Stephen Reed, said: “Providing special training in operating the vehicle has been a big part of our preparation over the past month or so.

“The drivers have been enjoying getting to know the vehicle. We’re now looking forward to operating it.”

Tim Matthews, of Optare, said, “This is an excellent example of Optare electric buses working at their best. The Electric buses are already zero emissions at tailpipe but operating them in conjunction with electricity generated from renewable sources delivers further air quality benefits.”