On Sunday 30 August 2020, National Express Coventry will launch the electric double decker buses into service on the 9/9A route to carry customers between University Hospital and Finham, via Coventry rail station and Coventry Pool Meadow.
In 2019 Coventry City Council was awarded £2.2 million from the government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme to fund the new electric buses and supporting infrastructure.
David Bradford, managing director of National Express Bus, said: “Earlier this year we announced that National Express had bought its last ever diesel - and as a leading transport company it is our aim to have a zero emission bus fleet from 2030, and white coach fleet by 2035.
“Buses are already one of the cleanest ways to travel. Through working together in the West Midlands Bus Alliance partnership and Coventry City Council, we’ve retrofitted our older buses with new exhaust systems, meaning the air coming out of them is cleaner than the air going in - and since 2015, we’ve bought only the cleanest diesels on the market.
“And now we’ve got fully electric buses. The feedback from our customers elsewhere has been really positive so we are really excited to launch them in service here in Coventry. As well as being great for the environment, they come with all the top-spec kit our customers expect from our Platinum buses - extra space, USB chargers and free wi-fi.”
National Express adds that bus drivers have to be specially trained to drive electric buses. The vehicles behave completely differently to combustion engine-driven buses, and drivers have to drive to preserve the charge for as long as possible and extend the range. Engineers too have been trained in a whole new kind of maintenance.
Each of the 10 electric buses has a dedicated rapid charger installed at the depot. The buses charge up in four hours, and can run for 250 kilometres before needing another charge. They also have a new dashboard system which engineers can use to monitor the buses’ performance from screens up in the depot or from their laptops.
Built by Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL) and BYD Europe, Coventry’s own electric buses follow hot on the heels of 19 others from the same manufacturers that were launched in service on National Express West Midlands’ number 6 route between Birmingham and Solihull last month.
For National Express West Midlands, Zenobe supplied an end-to-end solution, including batteries, the charging system at the depot and a software platform to help optimise energy use. It is said to be the first example of a turnkey solution for fleet electrification.