Milton Keynes Council signs up to innovative electric buses scheme

Examples of the electric buses, currently operating in Italy. Picture by Conductix-Wampfler.
Examples of the electric buses, currently operating in Italy. Picture by Conductix-Wampfler.

A NEW range of electric buses could see the end of their diesel counterparts on one route in Milton Keynes.

Today (Tuesday), eight organisations, including Milton Keynes Council and Arriva, signed a five-year collaboration agreement committing to the replacement of diesel buses with an electric alternative on one of the main bus routes in the city by summer 2013.

Examples of the electric buses, currently operating in Italy. Picture by Conductix-Wampfler.

Examples of the electric buses, currently operating in Italy. Picture by Conductix-Wampfler.

The new buses will be able to recharge their batteries wirelessly through the day, which means that for the first time, electric buses will be capable of the equivalent load of a diesel bus.

The number 7 route in Milton Keynes will replace its diesel buses with eight electric ones that will run seven days a week, removing about 500 tonnes of tailpipe CO2 emissions per year, as well as 45 tonnes of other noxious tailpipe emissions.

The route currently transports more than 775,000 passengers a year over a total of 450,000 miles.

The trial was planned and will be managed by Mitsui-Arup joint venture MBK Arup Sustainable Projects (MASP). Mitsui and MASP’s ultimate aim is use the data collected by the Milton Keynes trial to demonstrate the economic viability of low-carbon public transport. This data could be used to kick-start electric bus projects in other towns and cities worldwide.

John Miles, who initiated the trial from Arup, said: “What makes the Milton Keynes project different to other electric bus schemes is the wireless charging system. The Milton Keynes buses will be able to cover a heavily-used urban route because they are able to charge for 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each cycle without interrupting the timetable.

“This means that for the first time, an electric bus will effectively be able to do everything a diesel bus can do, which is a significant step forwards to a cleaner, quieter, public transport system.”

Managing Director of Mitsui & Co. Europe Plc, Noriaki Sakamoto, added: “Since the withdrawal of the subsidy for diesel buses, we can see that the cost of diesel bus operations will rise significantly. This, coupled with the anticipated reduction in the cost of batteries and electric drive systems for buses, as well as the introduction of wirelessly charging during the day now means that the electric bus is now a real contender in the future of public transport.”

Cabinet Member responsible for transport at Milton Keynes Council, Councillor John Bint, said: “We are delighted to be leading the way with this innovative public transport trial. Milton Keynes led the way with the installation of electric car charge points, and we’re now showing the world how electric buses are a real alternative to the traditional diesel buses.

“Passengers on the number 7 route can be proud to be using one of the greenest ways to travel.”