Nottinghamshire County Council's vision is that by 2025 our local supported bus fleet will be comprised of low emission vehicles. The Low Emission Bus Scheme and Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme have enabled the authority to introduce six zero tailpipe emission buses into the fleet.
The schemes are about encouraging increased patronage on public transport to address air quality issues across Nottinghamshire, especially in areas with a known air quality or traffic congestion issue. Clean buses and increased bus use will also help reduce CO2 emissions and meet the Councils commitments to address the climate emergency.
The need was for improved quality public transport options for Nottinghamshire residents and to prove the technology in a mix of rural and urban environments. We hope that the schemes have provided working examples of how the technology could now be adopted by more commercial bus operators to help ensure the Government's vision of a transition to Zero Emission Vehicles.
The first two buses funded by the Low Emission Bus Scheme were used on an existing bus route where the vehicles required replacement, the new electric buses provided a cleaner, greener and more comfortable environment for passengers and local residents along the route.
The next four buses funded by the Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme will be used on bus routes that are serving large new residential developments to encourage an increased uptake in sustainable transport modes and to reduce the use of the private car.
We have been supported by the local district and borough councils to introduce the electric buses into their areas.
We carried out market research to confirm that the type of vehicle with adequate operational range was available in the market. This is very useful to investigate whether a proposal can proceed. There are now more manufacturers and vehicle types available than ever before so research is key. We found the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (now Zemo Partnership) a very helpful organisation providing lots of useful information around zero-emission vehicles and bus manufacturers .
We also made contact with Nottingham City Council to learn from their own experiences in being one of the first Local Authorities to buy electric buses in the UK . This was particularly useful as they had purchased two different style of buses from two different suppliers ; therefore the Council ensured the tender specification and contracts took into account the lessons learned from the City Council.
We also engaged with local bus operators to let them know of each one of these initiatives to encourage them to tender for the work.
We faced challenges specifically around charging infrastructure and where to locate it. This proved to be a huge challenge not only to identify a suitable location, but also to identify where the nearest electrical connection could be established as the costs of cabling can be excessive. There is a lack of suppliers and skilled staff to carry out this work.
Although our initiative has been successful, there are some key challenges that anyone attempting this type of scheme should consider: Research - Good quality research before your scheme begins is paramount. Ensure the type of vehicles, operational range of vehicles and availability of electricity supply are available to allow your scheme to proceed; Networking - Speak to others that have carried out such schemes to allow for best practice and reduce wasted time; Understand Realistic Timescales - You can have the best laid plans and timelines for your scheme, however you need to be aware of the timescales involved particularly for procurement, manufacturing, electrical connections and infrastructure installations. Installations can be particularly time consuming and can regularly involve different land ownership and planning agreements which can take a long time to resolve. This will potentially become a bigger challenge in the future with the need to upgrade the grid to cater for more EV vehicles .
Also allow enough time for the bus operators to train drivers and engineering staff to become familiar with the buses and the new drive-train technology.
- Number of electric buses introduced.
- Miles travelled on sustainable transport.
- Amount of carbon savings.