The bus of the future
REGION’S NEW ELECTRIC BUSES SHOW THE WAY
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.”