Work has started to build the UK’s largest electric vehicle charging hub, as First Bus prepares to install 160 charging points and replace half its fleet with electric buses at its Caledonia depot, Glasgow.
The first 22 buses arrive by the autumn with the project due for completion two years’ time. It follows an order for 126 electric buses placed two months ago by First.
First Bus currently operates 337 buses out of its largest depot with another four sites across Glasgow.
The transition requires a £35.6m investment by First with electric buses costing almost double the £225,000 bill for a single decker running on diesel. Savings are delivered with lower maintenance and running costs.
The buses can run on urban routes for 16 hours and be rapidly recharged in just four hours.
The SNP manifesto committed to electrifying half of Scotland’s 4,000 or so buses within two years.
Transport Scotland is providing £28.1m of funding as part of the Scottish government’s commitment to electrify half of Scotland’s buses in the first two years of the parliamentary term.
This is a big investment which First Bus wouldn’t be able to achieve on its own. Government grants cover 75% of the difference between the price of a diesel and an electric bus, so First is making additional capital expenditure.
Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson said: “It’s absolute critical that we decarbonise our transport system and what we have set out are very ambitious plans of how we go about doing that.
“We’ve set out a target to make sure that we decarbonise as many of the bus fleets across Scotland as possible, at least half of it over the course of the next couple of years, and we’ll set out our plans later on this year of how we’ll drive that forward.”
Says First Glasgow MD Andrew Jarvis: “We’ve got to play our part in society in changing how we all live and work. A big part of that is emissions from vehicles.
“Transport is stubbornly high in terms of emissions and bus companies need to play their part, and are playing their part, in that zero emission journey.”
In 2018 all transport was responsible for 31% of Scotland’s net emissions.