In November 2020, Go North East launched the region’s first fully-electric bus fleet in the North East, which are capable of all-day service with a single overnight charge, supporting the company’s commitment to improve air quality.
The switch was flipped on the nine high-tech zero-emission buses, as part of a £3.7million joint-funded project from Go North East and the Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Fund, following a bid that was also supported by Nexus and Gateshead Council.
This fund helps support some of the additional costs of electric vehicles over diesel equivalents and the charging infrastructure.
Based at the company’s depot in Gateshead, these game-changing buses are powered by zero-emission clean sources such as solar, wind and hydro, and are housed in a new electric bus micro depot capable of accommodating 30 electric buses, paving the way for future investment.
These state-of-the-art, super environmentally friendly buses, branded ‘VOLTRA’, run between Gateshead, Saltwell Park and Newcastle on Go North East services 53 and 54.
They have a striking new futuristic look and boast a whole host of onboard features to deliver a bus of the future experience, including high quality interiors with luxury seating using sustainably produced materials.
Features include free Wi-Fi, wireless and USB charging, seat back phone holders that allow you to comfortably watch videos from your seat, next-stop audio-visual announcements, and ‘tap-on tap-off’ contactless bankcard ticketing, which is a first for the North East.
Before purchasing the game-changing electric buses, we trialled various electric vehicles on the intended routes to see which were most suitable, closely listening to feedback from our driving team for suitability, whilst also taking on board feedback from our customers.
Ultimately, the buses that were opted for were far superior, not just with the latest zero-emission technology, but also enhancing the on board customer experience, taking it to the next level with features like wireless charging and entertainment holders built into the back of seats, providing a 'bus of the future' experience.
Unfortunately, as we were in the depths of the pandemic when the buses were due to enter service, we sadly couldn't host an event for the people of the North East. Instead, we adapted, creating a launch video that was used across our digital channels and complemented it with a dynamic campaign that included e-mail, PR, posters, leaflets, billboards, roadside kiosks, bus stop graphics, Adshels, and more.
Throughout the process, we engaged with our stakeholders, and around the launch they were sent a branded mailer out to them, which included an infinity mailer, letter, booklet and VOLTRA branded goodies.
Looking back, there are so many positives, including the following: vehicle presentation and branding; our marketing and PR activities; vehicle reliability; electric range is as expected; the use of local contractors; came in on budget; driver, engineer and customer feedback - everyone loves them!; other stakeholder feedback; reduction in incidents.
Percentage of buses that are low-emission.