The next milestone in Nottingham's electric bus project was marked on 12th June 2014 at Queens Drive Park and Ride when Transport Minister Baroness Kramer visited the site.
The visit marked the electric bus network's extension onto the Medlink service and the establishment of the Queens Drive Park & Ride site as a demonstration 'Eco Hub'.
The first stage of the electric bus project has successfully operated for over a year, with four fully electric Optare buses used on Centrelink, operated by Trent Barton from Broadmarsh Bus Station, and four electric buses used on the Locallink services run by Nottingham Community Transport.
This latest stage of the project sees a further £5 million to put 17 Optare electric buses into operation by Community Transport on Medilink followed by further Locallink services in autumn 2014.
The final stage will see another 11 Optare electric buses on the high frequency Citylink Park and Ride services to the city centre in autumn 2015.
Medilink Electric is a partnership between Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Community Transport and the Nottingham NHS Health Trust. It provides a free accessible bus service, serving the City Hospital and Queens Medical Centre via two Park & Rides sites, running every 10 minutes, linking the Ring Road with the tram and several key bus services. It currently takes over 1.26 million passengers per year, using up to 10 buses in the peak.
The Queens Drive Eco Hub is being developed as a live demonstration centre for all forms of integrated sustainable transport. As well as electric bus park and ride services, it now has cycle hire and secure storage, cycle training, a new footpath linking the site to the River Trent, car charging points, an Asda home delivery collection point and a brand new wooden visitors' centre. It is hoped to further develop the Hub in the future to include electric car hire and demonstration days, electric bike hire and even an electric ferry to Trent Bridge.
A brand new electric charging operating base has also been established at the Eco Hub, partially funded the Government's Plugged-in Places Programme. This has 27 overnight chargers and three daytime fast chargers. Together with charging equipment also installed at Broadmarsh Bus Station and bus operator depots, this gives a network of over 60 chargers, which will be increased by a further 20 over the next year.
The project is jointly funded by the Department for Transport's Green Bus Fund and the City Council's Workplace Parking Levy and LSTF, with the whole project costing around £14m.
The extended electric bus network will make a significant contribution to the Council's commitment to reduce CO2 emissions between 2015 - 2026 by 26%. In addition, this project is projected to make annual fuel savings of nearly £1m a year over the next three years. Unlike many other local authorities, this should enable this contracted network of service to be maintained without any significant cuts.
Cllr Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for planning and transportation at Nottingham City Council, accompanied Baroness Kramer on the visit. She said: "This is a welcome addition to our Medilink fleet of buses, which ensure that local residents are provided with free public transport to access vital medical links. We have award winning public transport in Nottingham and a strong commitment to the environment. These buses will help us continue leading the way in efficient, greener transportation. The use of electric buses has already helped to reduce noise and improve air quality in the city. The use of electric buses will be expanded across the city, taking the total number of electric buses in Nottingham to 50 by September 2015, making our electric fleet one of the largest in Europe."
Photos with thanks to Neil Hoyle.
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