Today [21 March 2023] UK bus operator First Bus has announced that its Leicester depot will become one of the UK’s first electrified bus depots operating outside of London.
Its York and Norwich depots are also electrified.
The announcement came after First Bus and its local authority partner secured Department for Transport (DfT) approval for increased Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding.
The company described the site as a ‘depot of the future,’ and has said it hopes a further five depots will become electrified by March 2024 through the ZEBRA scheme.
First Bus plans to invest £6.6m in finishing this project, which will be accompanied by additional DfT funding worth £2.9m, which was secured in partnership with Leicester City Council.
Some 54% of the funding for the scheme will be provided by First Bus, with the remaining 46% set to come from the UK government’s ZEBRA scheme. A further 18 electric buses are due to arrive in Leicester later this year, with 86 expected to hit the road by March 2024.
Roads and local transport minister, Richard Holden, visited the Leicester depot today to introduce new vehicles into the site.
At the conclusion of the ZEBRA projects, First Bus aims to have more than 600 zero-emission buses in its fleet, with this most recent increase meaning First Bus now has 328 fully electric buses on order with manufacturer Wrightbus.
Ian Gillott, managing director (parts and services) at Wrightbus said: “Our partnership with First Bus is hugely significant in the drive to zero-emission public transport. It has been a real team effort between the local authority, Wrightbus and First Bus to deliver this exciting project.
“We can’t wait to see these buses in operation in Leicester, which will help passengers enjoy comfortable and cleaner transport. We are consistently at the forefront of zero and low-emission travel and would be delighted to progress future orders, dependent on future co-funding opportunities.”
First Bus will convert existing depots and install new infrastructure in partnership with the local distribution network operator and local authorities. New chargepoints will be provided by energy management solutions provider Heliox and can reportedly fully charge a bus in just 3.5 hours.