159 electric buses have been added to Oxford’s fleet, making it the leading city in the UK for electric buses.

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Oxford will have a higher ratio of electric buses per person compared to other cities such as London, Glasgow, and Leicester. This is due to an innovative agreement where the council promises private operators improved journey times in exchange for their investment. The city will now have 159 additional battery-powered buses.

Starting on Monday, the initial buses will begin operating following a special event to commemorate the launch. Once the entire fleet is up and running, only electric buses will be permitted within the city limits. Additional measures will also be implemented to reduce traffic and enhance air quality.

Around 50% of the funding for the £82.5 million initiative was provided by Go-Ahead and Stagecoach, contributing £43.7 million to purchase the vehicles. The remaining funds were contributed by the council and government. The Oxfordshire county council received a grant of £32.8 million from the Department for Transport’s £500 million Zebra scheme to support the purchase of zero-emission buses.

The collaboration will involve Go-Ahead and Stagecoach rebranding their electric buses with the same design. Additionally, the city will implement additional traffic measures to decrease bus travel time by at least 10% compared to 2019 speeds. This is a contractual agreement from the council to make sure the investment is profitable for the private businesses.

The city currently utilizes several “bus gates” that restrict access to most other vehicles. By the end of 2024, additional traffic filters will be implemented to encourage the use of public transportation or active modes of travel.

Several low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) have been implemented in Oxford, which have sparked intense protests from both activists and conspiracy theorists.

Recently, there has been a rise in traffic near the LTNs, which has caused a small decrease in bus speeds within the city. According to Luke Marion, the managing director of the Oxford Bus Company owned by Go-Ahead, the company still believes that the zones are an important component. However, implementing strategies to reduce traffic has been postponed due to ongoing road construction. Once these measures are put in place, the traffic issue is expected to improve.

The company providing 104 out of 159 electric buses, Oxford Bus Company, has set up a charging station at Cowley House depot. This station can fully charge the entire fleet, which covers a distance of 170 miles per day.

A woman in a red and black dress pays the driver her fare

The initial set of electric buses, which are currently operating for Oxford Brookes University, are already in use. However, Marion referred to Monday’s launch as a significant step in our efforts to convert our city services to electric.

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According to Zemo, a zero-emissions transport organization, there are currently 2,776 buses running on batteries in use in the UK, with over 1,400 in London and close to 500 in Scotland.

The Oxford debut coincides with Go-Ahead’s temporary removal of a small group of electric buses in south London due to a fire incident on Thursday. According to Transport for London, this is a precautionary measure that only impacts one model on a specific route.

The decision to transition all buses in Oxford to zero-emission is in opposition to the contentious choice of using diesel trains for the construction of the new East-West railway line connecting Oxford and Cambridge, instead of implementing electrification on the track.

Source: theguardian.com

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