Green buses take to the road
Thursday 14 June 2012
The first green buses of their kind have been launched in Coventry by pioneering operator Travel de Courcey as part of a £1 million innovation.
The trio of single-deckers are the UK's first large fast-charging electric buses and are being operated on the Park & Ride South shuttle service based at the city's War Memorial Park.
The fleet was officially launched today by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker.
He said: "I am delighted that we have been able to contribute £300,000 through the Green Bus Fund for the UK's first large fast-charging electric buses.
"The West Midlands is in the vanguard of a green transport revolution which will mean better journeys for passengers, less noise and air pollution and lower carbon emissions.
"I congratulate Centro and Travel de Courcey for their forward thinking approach which will pay dividends for their passengers and for the environment."
The zero-emission vehicles are each powered by more than 200 hi-tech batteries which can be fully charged in 40 minutes to transport up to 40 passengers at a time from the south and into the centre of the city.
Electric charging points at the War Memorial Park in Kenilworth Road enable all three buses to run at peak times, with batteries being re-charged overnight at Travel de Courcey's main depot in Rowley Drive, Coventry.
The launch is a partnership between Travel de Courcey, the largest independent bus and coach operator in the West Midlands, Coventry City Council, which owns the Park & Ride South site and installed the infrastructure, and Centro, which is responsible for bus transport in the West Midlands.
The £1 million project was also part-funded by the government's Green Bus Fund, CENEX, Centro and Coventry City Council and involved two years of research and development with Leeds-based bus and coach manufacturer Optare.
Mike de Courcey, managing director of Travel de Courcey, said: "Coventry is the birthplace of the British car and cycle industry and we are delighted to be creating another transport first for the city as part of our desire to be at the forefront of our industry.
"The launch of the electric buses marks one of the most significant developments in the 40-year history of Travel de Courcey and highlights our commitment to pioneer innovative and green technology for the benefit of our passengers and the environment."
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: "This is a significant milestone for public transport in Coventry and we are proud and delighted to have played our part.
"It will do much to encourage new vehicle technology and stimulate the market for low carbon buses, an industry in which the UK is a world leader and to which we at Centro aspire."
Cllr Lynnette Kelly, Coventry City Council's Cabinet Member for City Development, said: "The new electric buses are a clear demonstration of how new technology can be used to provide visible and user friendly services.
"The city is proud of its growing reputation for low carbon transport and the launch of the new service shows how the city is taking a lead role in innovation and environmental matters. It is one of a number of high profile projects that puts Coventry in the national limelight."
The Optare Versa buses are equipped with latest features for improved passenger comfort and safety including audio and visual bus stop announcements, CCTV and a driver management system to monitor standards.
Regenerative braking is also used with energy that would traditionally be lost as heat in the brakes being used to help power the batteries.
John Horn, sales director at Optare, said: "The Versa's at 11.1 metres are not only the largest electric buses supplied to a UK operator, but another first is the fast change system which allows for the vehicles to operate all day without the need to return to the depot."
Travel de Courcey is the largest independent bus and coach operator in the West Midlands and holder of Bus Operator of the Year for fleets of its size in the UK (Route One Operator Excellence Awards) and winner of the Customer Service Award at the Coventry Telegraph Business Awards 2012.
Travel de Courcey's general manager Bob Wildman is a Green Leader with Sustainability West Midlands, in recognition of overseeing the company's investment in cleaner and more efficient vehicles, and also Bus Manager of the Year (Route One Operator Excellence Awards).