Smart Transport

Go Ahead Group powering ahead with UK’s largest charging hub for electric buses

Electric bus charging facility

Work has started to install one of the biggest bus electric charging hubs in the UK.

The 104 charging points, each offering 150kw of DC power, are being installed at the Oxford Bus Company’s depot in Cowley, ahead of it receiving the first delivery of electric buses later this year.

With co-funding from Go Ahead Group, Oxfordshire County Council and the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, Oxford Bus Company has ordered 104 new electric buses to begin arriving on Oxford’s streets from late 2023.

A consortium of bus operators including the Oxford Bus Company pledged £43.7 million towards the scheme, the Government committed £32.8 million and Oxfordshire County Council £6 million. In total, the combined investment will result in 159 new battery electric buses serving Oxford.

Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company managing director, said: “This is another exciting step forward in our extensive infrastructure scope of works in preparation for transforming our city services to electric.”

The Oxford Bus Company’s owner, Go-Ahead, has pledged to convert its 5,500-strong bus fleet nationwide to zero emission energy.

Christian Schreyer, group chief executive, said: “Customers in Oxford can look forward to clean, green, comfortable buses when this work is complete. This is a great example of bus operators working in partnership with local and national government to deliver zero-emission transport.” 

The commencement of works is the latest stage in the ambitious urban decarbonisation project, Energy Superhub Oxford. The four-year project has seen innovations such as the creation of a first-of-a-kind battery storage system, a high-power private wire charging network and an electric vehicle (EV) charging hub at Redbridge Park & Ride.

To enable the buses to charge overnight, depot charging infrastructure being installed by Zenobē will be powered by an EDF Renewables UK substation at Oxford Bus Company’s Watlington Road depot.

Steven Meersman, co-founder director of Zenobē, said: “This is a flagship project for Zenobē. It is an example of what an ambitious operator can do with a strong vision and local support.”

In 2020 Oxford Bus Company introduced the first double deck electric bus to Oxford via its City Sightseeing Oxford fleet. It now has three retrofitted electric vehicles in its fleet, which were delivered in partnership with Oxford City Council.

The arrival of the fleet of electric buses is expected to support a further drop in NOx levels to help clean up Oxford’s air pollution as part of wider aims for Oxfordshire to become a net carbon zero county by 2025.

All the new buses are being manufactured in the UK and are expected to arrive by June 2024.

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