York will soon be home to one of the biggest fleets of double deck electric buses outside of London, thanks to a significant investment by First York and funding secured by City of York Council from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
Today (25 March), City of York Council, First York and bus manufacturer Optare have announced that 21 new double deck electric vehicles will arrive in York in October 2019. The zero-emission and fully electric buses each have the capacity to carry 99 passengers and have a range of over 150 miles from one overnight charge, which means that they don’t need to be recharged during the day. Alongside this, First York is also upgrading its charging infrastructure, and the state-of-the-art vehicles will feature audio visual next stop technology, USB charging points and will carry new-look Park & Ride branding.
York Park & Ride, an operating partnership between City of York Council and First York, supports over four million journeys every year and is one of the UK’s most successful Park & Ride services. 12 electric single deck Optare buses have been operating on two out of the six Park & Ride sites for the last five years; helping to improve air quality and reduce congestion in the city. Individual car use and the congestion caused is a big contributor to air pollution in York, but each bus can take up to 75 cars off the congested streets in York.
Councillor Peter Dew, Executive Member for Transport and Planning, said: "I’m delighted that City of York Council has been successful in securing funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) towards the cost of these new buses and I welcome First York’s ongoing investment in the Park & Ride fleet."
Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for the Environment, said: "We’re committed to tackling congestion and reducing air pollution in the city, and these new zero-emission, electric buses will play a key role in helping us to achieve these objectives by taking more cars off the road and making Park & Ride a truly sustainable form of transport."
Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, said: "We’re proud to be the operator of one of the biggest fleets of double deck electric buses outside of London, as we continue to work with City of York Council to improve air quality in York.
"Today’s announcement showcases the benefits of partnership working in practice and we remain committed to investing in our bus services in York, as we share the same vision. By working together, local authorities and bus operators can make a real impact on congestion and air quality, provide better services for our customers, support local economies more effectively and, ultimately, help to increase passenger numbers.
"At First York, we are striving to make things better for the customer by making bus travel simple, speeding up bus boarding times, reducing journey times, using data to make better operational decisions and developing a customer relationship as opposed to a transactional one."
Optare’s Commercial Director, Robert Drewery, added: "Optare is delighted to continue its electric journey with First York. In 2014, our electric single deck Versas began operation on the city’s Park & Ride service. We have built on five years of valuable EV experience in York to develop our product range. In 2017, Optare partnered with First and City of York Council in launching our prototype electric double deck into service. The lessons learned during the trial have been fundamental in shaping the design of the Metrodecker EV, the world’s first truly zero emissions double deck bus. Optare is particularly proud that our vehicle, designed and manufactured in Yorkshire, will be at the centre of continued air quality improvements in York."
Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said: "Buses are vital for taking cars off the road, driving down emissions and cleaning up our air, and I am delighted that York are now set to do this with a cleaner, greener fleet – made possible through £3.3 million awarded under the 2016 Low Emission Bus Scheme.
"This scheme, along with our Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme, continue to help the sector to reduce emissions and make buses an increasingly sustainable form of transport.’’