The Chronicle

The bus of the fu­ture


- By HER­BERT SODEN Local Democ­racy Re­porter her­bert.soden@ncj­me­

THE “bus of the fu­ture” has picked up its first pas­sen­gers.

Go North East yes­ter­day launched the first fully elec­tric bus fleet in the re­gion. The brand new ve­hi­cles are ca­pa­ble of all-day service with a sin­gle overnight charge.

The nine high-tech zero emis­sions buses are part of a £3.7mil­lion joint­funded project from Go North East and the Gov­ern­ment’s Ul­tra-Low Emis­sion Bus Fund, fol­low­ing a bid that was also sup­ported by Nexus and Gateshead Coun­cil.

This fund helps sup­port some of the ad­di­tional costs of elec­tric ve­hi­cles over diesel equiv­a­lents and the charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Based at the com­pany’s de­pot in Gateshead, th­ese “game-chang­ing” buses are pow­ered by zero-emis­sion clean sources such as so­lar, wind and hy­dro, and are housed in a new elec­tric bus mi­cro de­pot ca­pa­ble of ac­com­mo­dat­ing 30 elec­tric buses, paving the way for fu­ture in­vest­ment.

The ve­hi­cles, branded “Voltra”, will run be­tween Gateshead, Saltwell Park and New­cas­tle on Go North East ser­vices 53 and 54. They have a fu­tur­is­tic look and seat­ing made us­ing sus­tain­ably pro­duced ma­te­ri­als.

Fea­tures in­clude free Wi-Fi, wire­less and USB charg­ing, seat back phone hold­ers that al­low pas­sen­gers to watch videos from their seat, next-stop au­dio­vi­sual an­nounce­ments, and ‘tap-on tap-off’ con­tact­less bankcard tick­et­ing, which is a first for the North East.

Pas­sen­gers tap their con­tact­less card as they get on, and as they alight, then the sys­tem cal­cu­lates the fare and caps out at the day or weekly ticket prices if trav­el­ling mul­ti­ple times, mak­ing sure you pay the best price – no more than £3 a day or £13 a week.

Mar­tijn Gil­bert, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Go North East, de­scribed the ve­hi­cles as “the bus of the fu­ture, to­day.”

He said: “This is the dawn of a new era for bus travel l here in the North East as we e launch what we be­lieve are e the very best local buses in n the UK, and prob­a­bly y be­yond, with a game-chang- ing bus of the fu­ture ex­peri- ence for cus­tomers, not just st with zero-emis­sion buses but ut a range of pi­o­neer­ing tech­nol­lo­gies and cus­tomer fea­tures es to rev­o­lu­tionise bus travel.

“This rep­re­sents a ma­jor in­vest­ment of £2mil­lion topped up by the Gov­ern­ment’s Ul­tra-Low Emis­sion Bus Fund, to help boost the re­cov­ery of our re­gion ready for un­lock­ing and demon­strates our com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing air qual­ity for our com­mu­ni­ties.

“Sus­tain­abil­ity is key and our Voltra buses run on elec­tric­ity sourced with green cre­den­tials, but Voltra is far more than an elec­tric bus fleet as we’ve looked at ev­ery de­tail and max­imised the use of tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide a new stan­dard in bus travel.”

Coun Martin Gan­non, Leader of Gateshead Coun­cil and Chair of the North East Joint Trans­port Com­mit­tee, added: “The in­tro­duc­tion of Voltra ser­vices will help to im­prove air qual­ity in the re­gion and sup­ports our com­mit­ment to car­bon re­duc­tion across the board.

“As out­lined in the draft North East Trans­port Plan, we’re keen to lead the green trans­port rev­o­lu­tion and we’d en­cour­age peo­ple to make use of th­ese won­der­ful new ser­vices in the fu­ture.”

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 ??  ?? Mar­tijn Gil­bert, MD of Go North East, at the un­veil­ing of the new elec­tric bus fleet in Gateshead. Be­low, there will be a ‘tap on, tap off’ sys­tem
Mar­tijn Gil­bert, MD of Go North East, at the un­veil­ing of the new elec­tric bus fleet in Gateshead. Be­low, there will be a ‘tap on, tap off’ sys­tem

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