Optare Versa EVs enter service following the securing of Green Bus Fund support
Six Optare Versa EVs entered service with First in York on Sunday. They’re providing a 10-minute daytime frequency, seven days a week on route 59 between the city’s newest Parkand- Ride site at Poppleton Bar and the centre.
The buses have a 70-80 mile range. Overnight recharging for all six takes place at First’s James Street depot with top up charging as required during the day at the Park-and-Ride site where there are 600 parking spaces.
Poppleton Bar is part of a £22.7m project that has seen the current Askham Bar Park-and-Ride facility also extended from 400 to around 1,100 spaces. First continues to use its Mercedes-Benz Citaro artics alongside other types on the Askham bar service.
The Park-and-Ride electric Versas, owned by First, are part of a nine-strong order in conjunction with City of York Council that attracted fourth round Green Bus Fund support. Two more buses are expected to be used by an as yet unnamed operator on a route serving a sustainable housing development while Transdev York is having the ninth for its Unibus service.
First has created a dedicated rota for the buses as drivers are also responsible for top up charging. While the buses are much quieter than a diesel vehicle they do emit a noise. First has worked with a local blind and partially sighted group so members know what sounds to expect.
First’s Park-and-Ride manager, Peter McCarthy, said: “We’re ready to welcome customers on board these fabulous new vehicles that offer free Wi-Fi and the latest in comfort. I’m sure this new environmentally friendly way to travel will be a huge success and reduce congestion in our city.
Cllr David Levene, Cabinet Member for Transport at City of York Council, said: “York has become the first city in the North to introduce a new fleet of electric buses thanks to a successful bid in May last year, which awarded £1.2m funding.
“Our aim is to encourage even more people to travel by bus and increase passenger numbers by 18% by 2015. We know our on-going work to improve services will help to deliver real benefits for the city, and for every £1 spent in York this project should deliver £4 of benefits by reducing congestion, improving air quality and health, and reducing road accidents.”