Next time you visit London, you could be crossing London Bridge in an electric double-decker bus.
Visitors and residents to the UK capital will soon have the opportunity to take a ride on Europe’s largest electric double-decker bus fleet, with 68 new electric busses ordered by the City of London as part of the city’s commitment to cleaner air.
31 of these will be Optare Metrodeckers, Indian automaker Ashok Leyland has revealed, and they will become part of some of London’s most iconic routes, including route 34 which transports people from Friern Barnet to London Bridge.
This route, along with route 134 – which services the famous shopping strip of Tottenham Court Road – will be entirely serviced by the electric busses, in what the company describes as a ‘landmark order’.
While the London Bridge route will certainly be a great showcase of electric buses for tourists, the choice of the Tottenham Court Road route is very pertinent, given its historical association with electrical goods.
Seating 80 passengers with a total capacity of 99, the Optare Metrodecker sports 3 parallel battery packs adding to a total 200Kw of power that give it a range of up to 230km on one charge – which should allow one bus to travel the 19km route 34 ten times.
Managing Director of Ashok Leyland Mr. Vinod K. Dasari says the order underlines the automaker’s active involvement in the shift to electric vehicles.
“Double-decker buses in London have been iconic and is a matter of prestige for the city. It is a moment of great pride not only for us but for our country, as our subsidiary, Optare wins such a crucial and environmentally significant order,” he noted in a press release.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, first announced the decision by the City of London to purchase an electric bus fleet at a historic summit last June set to urge the government to tackle the UK’s increasing air quality problems.
“In London we’re helping to lead the way with my Ultra Low Emission Zone, and I’m delighted to be able to announce a Europe-leading new fleet of electric double-decker buses too. We’re doing all we can to improve our air quality and we need the government to match our ambition to solve this national health crisis.
The other 37 buses have been ordered from BYD/British Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL). They will supply all-electric Enviro400EV buses which ADL say run on iron-phosphate batteries enabling all day transport on a single charge.
The Enviro400EV is a brand new concept for ADL which already has several hybrid and one ‘virtual electric’ models of the Enviro400. The ‘virtual electric’ Envrio400VE uses geofencing to ensure its diesel engine is only used outside ‘emission sensitive areas’.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.