Durham is first to introduce electric Optare Solos
Date: 22nd Jan 10
Durham County Council is set to become the first local authority in the country to introduce Optare’s Solo EV battery-powered bus into service when they put three of them onto the Durham Cathedral Bus service.
The County Council has ordered the Solo EVs using grants from the Government’s £30 million Green Bus Fund, which meets the additional cost of an EV over that of an equivalent diesel-powered bus.
When announcing the outcome of bids in December, the Department for Transport said that it would result in at least 55 electric vehicles entering service as a result of the scheme. As the Solo EV is the only practical full-size battery powered bus available from a
Introducing the Solo EVs is part of a £50 million upgrade of the historic city centre. The route will take them through sensitive parts of the city and a pedestrianised area where the zero emission performance of the Solo EV will help ensure cleaner air to the benefit of people and the fabric of ancient buildings. The County Council estimates that using these buses will save 46 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.
The route to be operated has a very low daily mileage and well within the range of the Solo EV. Both routes include steep inclines and trials of a Solo EV have shown that they perform better than existing diesel Solos when climbing these hills with the added benefit of regenerative charging of the batteries during descents.
Councillor Bob Young, Transport Portfolio Holder at Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted that the County Council is pioneering the use of electric buses and doing so in the heart of the historic city of
“Not only will these buses have a significant impact on reducing CO2 to the benefit of local residents and the many thousands of visitors from around the world who visit the city, but their near silent operation will contribute to less noise pollution in a city renowned for its beauty and tranquillity.”
Richard Startup, Business Manager for Passenger Transport at the Council, added: “Another significant advantage of the Solo model is that it has a ‘plug and play’ power pack, which is easily interchangeable. This would allow easy conversion of existing Solo diesel buses to battery power or vice versa, enabling us to put these buses into service elsewhere in the County as conventional diesel buses at sometime in the future.”
The service will continue to be operated by local firm John Bell Travel, who currently operates diesel-engined Solos on the routes. A charging station will be installed at their Peterlee depot and plans are in hand to install a fast charge facility at
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