Transdev first to trial eCitaro

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The operator is undertaking in-service trials of the new eCitaro as part of a move to switch its entire Harrogate fleet to electric power

Transdev has become the first operator in the UK to trial the new Mercedes-Benz eCitaro, which is undergoing trials with subsidiary The Harrogate Bus Company. A bid to convert the operator’s entire fleet to zero-emission electric power took a step forward recently, after the Government invited North Yorkshire County Council to bid for more than £8 million to finance the project.

The week-long trial took place on The Harrogate Bus Company’s route 1 linking Harrogate and Knaresborough and follows experience gained with two alternative electric single deck buses. A Yutong E10 was tested in February, while a BYD ADL Enviro200EV was trialled on the same route in October 2020.

Transdev said it is looking to build on its positive experience of running electric buses after it became the first operator in Britain to introduce its fleet of eight opportunity charged ‘Harrogate Electrics’ buses in 2018 thanks to funding of £2.25 million from the Government to create Britain’s first Low Emission Bus Town. Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “This exciting trial of the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro marks the first time this new design has been tested in service in the UK, reflecting our ambition to deliver a zero-emission, high-quality product for our customers across Harrogate and beyond. This is the third stage of our comparative trials of electric bus designs on one of our most popular routes, which will help us to make informed choices between options to invest in electric power. We’ve also invited our customers who experienced this new bus in service with us to let us know what they think of it – we’ve already had a positive reaction and we’re keen to hear more, as our customers’ views are vitally important to us. We hope that alongside North Yorkshire County Council’s bid for Government support, our own multi-million-pound investment will turn our vision of a completely zero-emission bus network powered by a fully electric bus fleet into reality.”

Following an expression of interest to the Department for Transport (DfT) Zero Emissions Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, the county council has been invited to submit a business case to support its bid for funding. If the bid succeeds, the council will work in partnership with Transdev to introduce 39 electric buses in Harrogate over the next three years at a cost of £20 million, with £11.5 million being invested directly by the operator. This would deliver a fleet of 20 single-deck and 19 double-deck buses, along with supporting charging infrastructure, on routes across Harrogate and beyond including the high-profile 36 linking the town with Leeds and Ripon, building on rises of more than 21% in customer numbers that the operator has reported in the last few years. The bid for funds must be submitted by the end of January 2022, with a decision from the DfT expected by March 2022.

You can read a full test drive and review of the new Mercedes-Benz eCitaro from page 16 of this issue

Driver Brandon Hopper is seen with the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro zero-emission electric bus. TRANSDEV