Oxford sightseeing fleet to go electric

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Oxford City Council is taking charge of a £1.7m plan to retrofit buses in the city and create an electric sightseeing fleet, the Oxford Mail reported.

The new project will see 78 buses retrofitted to Euro VI standards, while another five will be made fully electric – the entire City Sightseeing Oxford fleet.

Although NO2 levels have fallen in Oxford over recent years, it is claimed that buses still account for 56% of all emissions in the city centre. As part of a Government scheme, the city will be given the money and work with bus operators to make the scheme work.

Oxford Bus Company – which also owns City Sightseeing Oxford – and Stagecoach are working with the city council on the project.

If the council’s executive board gives the plan the go-ahead, as expected, then it will be delegated to the executive director of the council’s Sustainable City unit to formally agree the way forward with the bus operators.

Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council’s Board Member for Safer and Greener Environment, said: “Retrofitting so many local buses will ensure the Oxford bus fleet meets the highest standard. We’re only able to make this step-change, so that the council can make the zero-emissions zone a practical reality, because Government agreed to our funding request.

“In a time of austerity when our government grant falls to zero next year, Oxford will only become the electric vehicle capital of the UK if Government listens to our city council and provides extra crucial funding.”

When the project was first announced in February, Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “This is excellent news for the city of Oxford and is the result of key stakeholders working together to unlock crucial Government funding for the wider benefit of the community we all serve.

“This is the first step in a long progress towards introducing ultra-low or zero emission buses more widely within Oxford.”