Stagecoach, Alexander in £56m electric bus plan

Perth-based transport giant Stagecoach on Tuesday announced a £56 million plan to deliver Europe’s largest single investment in electric buses for Greater Manchester.

New Enviro400 EV City vehicles, each with a range of up to 190 miles and capacity to carry around 80 passengers, would be built by the UK’s leading electric bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis, based in Falkirk.

The new vehicles would use battery and power electronics expertise from automotive company BYD.

The plans are dependent on a bid for £21.5 million in support from the UK Government’s recently announced Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, which is aimed at cutting emissions and ensuring cleaner and greener journeys.

It is hoped the first of the planned 105 new zero emissions double-decker buses and associated infrastructure will go live from summer 2019, with the new fleet fully in place by early 2020.

Stagecoach has pledged to invest £34.6 million in the project, which is backed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Transport for Greater Manchester and other key organisations.

Stagecoach is already the UK’s biggest investor in hybrid-electric bus technology and has invested more than £1 billion in new greener buses over the past decade.

Stagecoach Group CEO Martin Griffiths said: “This game-changing initiative is the biggest single investment in e-bus technology anywhere in Europe.

“It is a clear sign of our bold ambition to transform Greater Manchester’s bus network

“Our plans will put Greater Manchester at the forefront of the drive to improve local air quality, and help cement Britain’s position as global leader in manufacturing low-emission vehicles.

“It is also part of our wider partnership proposals to maximise the potential of the bus network to drive the region’s economy and better connect its communities.

“By working together, bus operators, the Mayor and the region’s local authorities can deliver the quick and sustained improvements we all want to see in Greater Manchester’s bus network, building on the major progress we’ve already made and avoiding unnecessary extra costs to local taxpayers.”

Stagecoach’s plans would see the new e-buses — which would replace conventional Euro 3 and Euro 4 vehicles — based at its depots in Hyde Road and Sharston.

Major charging infrastructure would allow buses to be charged simultaneously, enabling a 24 hour-a-day operation.

The e-bus fleet would operate four key high frequency services connecting Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly railway station, six hospitals and two universities.