VIDEO CONTENT: A fleet of electric buses powered by 100% renewable energy replaced all diesel vehicles on Leicester’s three park & ride routes from today.

The buses – manufactured by Yutong, the world’s leading supplier of electric buses – have been supplied and completed in Castleford by Pelican Bus and Coach.

Eleven brand new buses are now operating on the routes linking Meynell’s Gorse, Birstall and Enderby with the city centre, in the first phase of a £50m project that could see electric buses rolled out to a third of the city’s network by 2024.

The project is supported by a £400,000 grant from the Business Rates Pool, a pot of surplus funding managed by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP) for projects that invest in economic development priorities across Leicester and Leicestershire.

Bringing cleaner, greener and zero-emission public transport to Leicester for the first time, the £5m buses will also provide commuters and shoppers with a quick, quiet and comfortable journey to the city centre.

The distinctive green buses – equipped with on-board digital screens and USB charging points at every seat – will also provide passengers with free WiFi.

People waiting for the bus will benefit from real-time arrival information and smart new bus shelters – while new bus priority measures over the next 18 months will help ensure a smooth journey for passengers.

Leicester’s Park & Ride services are run jointly with Leicestershire County Council and operated by Roberts Travel Group.

Ian Downie, Head of Yutong Bus says: “The project has delivered these 11 vehicles, with the associated charging infrastructure upgrades during these very difficult times we have all experienced.

“It is to the absolute credit to Roberts Travel, Leicester City Council, Zenobe and ourselves that this has been delivered on time and on budget.

“The vehicles were fully completed in the UK at the Pelican premises in Castleford, with driver and engineering training completed with the excellent team at Roberts.

“We are delighted to see these vehicles entering service in Leicester, improving the air quality and the passenger experience, whilst encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto public transport.”

All day in service, on one overnight charge

Roberts Travel Group has played a key role in the electrification project, installing a brand new charging station at its depot in Coalville in partnership with Zenobe Energy. The buses are charged overnight and operate all day on a single charge.

The Park & Ride service costs just £3 return for a family/group ticket and is free for concessionary bus pass holders. The service is currently subsidised so that health workers can travel free of charge until further notice.

The Greenline electric bus project is part of Leicester City Council’s ambitious £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport that’s backed by £40million from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF).

The package of work will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, education, or other facilities that support the city’s growth, and will deliver on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and healthy living commitments. 

Match funding is being provided through the city council, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), local bus operators and other partners. 

Leicester’s successful bid to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) has funded most of the £7.1m required for 18 new electric buses.

As well as the 11 new Park & Ride buses, four electric buses will be introduced on the popular Hospital Hopper routes in the autumn, while three electric buses will operate on a brand new city centre shuttle service from autumn 2022.

The green shuttle will ferry people between transport hubs and key destinations in Leicester, free of charge.

New bus priority corridors

Schemes include the development of new bus priority corridors linking the city centre to city neighbourhoods and suburbs, and the continued development of a network of high-quality cycling and walking routes throughout the city, building on the success of Connecting Leicester.

It also includes the city’s new electric bike hire scheme – Santander Cycles Leicester – which launched in Leicester last month.

The TCF is also funding the £7m required for complementary works, such as bus priority measures, bus shelters, digital ticketing and real-time displays, as well as the creation of two new electric bus park & ride sites at Beaumont Leys and the General Hospital.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Thanks to our successful bid for government funding through the Transforming Cities Fund, we’ve been able to make this significant investment into sustainable public transport.

“We know that if we are to persuade people to leave their cars outside the city centre, we need to offer them attractive and affordable travel alternatives.

“These Greenline buses are clean, green and comfortable – and the more people use them, the more we can reduce congestion and improve air quality in the city.”

County council leader, Nick Rushton, said: “City and county councils working together to deliver the Green Agenda locally is a great example of how we can make life better for our residents and businesses. Decarbonising transport and investing in electrified buses is the future and it will massively contribute to the reduction of our carbon footprint and our aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.”

Project started 18 months ago

RTG Managing director Jonathan Hunt said: “I am really pleased that Roberts Travel Group will be the first operator in Leicester to operate fully electric buses.

“I am extremely proud that our loyal team of drivers will continue to drive the very best vehicles available, as we continue to invest in the latest technology for the people of Leicester. 

“After working on the project for the last 18 months, it is fantastic that we will see these vehicles in the city from Monday.”

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “The ultimate goal of the Greenline Electric Bus Project is to improve public transport and local air quality by introducing zero-emission electric buses across the city.

“The next phase of the project is to secure funding that could allow up to 100 more electric buses to be purchased for Leicester.

“We’ll be working closely with local operators and the Department for Transport to support the introduction of electric vehicles across commercial routes in the next two to three years.

“We’re also excited that the £13.5m redevelopment under way at St Margaret’s Bus Station will see Leicester become home to the UK’s first carbon neutral bus station.

“The Greenline project is just part of our ambitious programme of investment in sustainable transport – practical action that will help us address the urgent climate emergency we are all facing.”

Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “I’m delighted part of our £40m Transforming Cities investment for Leicester is being used to introduce an entirely new fleet of all-electric buses. This will have a profoundly positive effect on the city by lowering emissions, improving air quality and reducing noise pollution.

“This Government is committed to decarbonising the transport network across the UK, as we build back greener and strive to achieve net zero by 2050.”

More information about Park & Ride in Leicester can be found here