The introduction of the four pure electric Optare MetroCity buses is the first step of the Mayor’s plan for all single deck buses in central London to be zero emission at tailpipe, as part of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone, from 2020.
This brings the total number of electric buses now in service in London to six. The first two electric buses in London have been operating on routes 507 and 521 since last December. A further two are expected to enter service later this year.
These electric bus trials will be used to establish whether the technology can stand up to the rigours of operating in an intense urban environment such as London. The manufacturer’s tests demonstrated that while the initial capital cost of these vehicles was more than that of standard diesel, the significantly lower running and maintenance costs would offset this within the typical lifetime of the vehicle. The buses take around five hours to fully charge overnight, or two hours using fast charge technology and have a range of up to 100 miles (161 km) depending on operating conditions.
The electric bus trial is one of the many measures the Mayor has introduced to make London’s bus fleet more environmentally friendly, including the operation of zero emission hydrogen buses on Route RV1 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway and delivering Europe’s largest hybrid bus fleet. Around eight hundred hybrid buses now operate on the capital’s roads, including the New Routemasters, with more being introduced in a rolling programme. By 2016 there will be more than 1,700 hybrid buses in service on London’s streets representing 20 per cent of the total bus fleet. TfL has also recently completed an extensive retrofit programme over 1,000 older buses which involves fitting them with an innovative system called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), reducing emissions of harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by up to 88 per cent.