The UK’s first all-electric bus route has been launched in Milton Keynes today.
The scheme is designed to test whether or not electric buses can perform on a par with their diesel counterparts in a real-world operational environment.
The buses will run for five years in a carefully monitored demonstration programme, which will objectively assess their technical and commercial viability.
Eight electric buses will take over the Route 7 route that even diesel buses find demanding, running 17 hours a day, seven days a week, with each bus covering over 56,000 miles per year.
However, it is claimed the buses have a technological advantage to help them meet the rigours of their route – wireless charging.
Instead of plugging into the mains, the new buses will be able to recharge their batteries wirelessly during their working day. They can run a continuous service for 17 hours, as with a diesel bus.
The wireless charging plates are set into the road and transfer power directly to receiving plates underneath the bus, using a technique based on the principles of electrical induction.
In 10 minutes, a bus parked over a charging point can replenish two-thirds of the energy consumed on its 15-mile route between Wolverton and Bletchley, taking in Central Milton Keynes.
There are just two wireless charging points to service all eight buses, which will charge in the time scheduled for driver breaks.
Route 7 buses carry nearly 800,000 passengers each year. This is seen as a good opportunity so to put electric buses through their paces.
It is further claimed the eight electric buses will remove approximately five tonnes of particulates and noxious tailpipe emissions from the city’s streets each year and approximately 270 tonnes of CO2 per year from the atmosphere.
The trial is a collaboration led by eFleet Integrated Service – an enabling company set up by Mitsui & Co Europe – and design engineering consultancy Arup.
No mention is made of the impact made on the nation’s nation grid system, or the power generation system from where the electricity is sourced – a greenhouse gas generating source of its own. ∎
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