Image credit: Ed Webster

Oxford becomes electric bus hub with 159 new vehicles

Oxford is launching a new fleet of 159 electric buses on Monday, making the city one of the UK’s leading adopters of zero-emission buses.

The new buses will give Oxford more electric buses per capita than major cities, including London and Glasgow.

The first buses from the fleet went into service on Monday. Oxford Bus Company will provide 104 electric buses into service, and Stagecoach 55.

The project costs a total of £82.5 million. Bus companies Go-Ahead and Stagecoach, which operate the Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel, and City Sightseeing Oxford, invested £43.7m.

The rest of the funding came from Oxfordshire County Council’s direct contribution of £6m and a £32.8 million grant from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme.

In an arrangement between the council and operators, the city will have to reduce traffic to cut bus journey times by at least 10% compared to 2019 levels.

However, bus companies regularly complain about congestion, especially due to low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and repetitive maintenance works on the city’s main roads including Woodstock, Banbury, and Cowley roads, leading to blocked bus lanes and service disruption.

In November, Oxford Bus Company rolled out 21 electric buses serving Oxford Brookes University and the City Sightseeing buses also run on electricity.

To power these new buses, Oxford Bus Company also set up a charging hub at its Cowley House depot, while Stagecoach is installing charging points at their Network Oxford site.

Once the whole fleet is fully operational, only zero-emission buses will be allowed in Oxford.

The city has already worked on different traffic restrictions, implementing several low-traffic neighbourhoods and introducing several “bus gates” that block unauthorised vehicles. More traffic filters are expected to roll out by the end of 2024 to push people towards public transport.

“This is a historic moment in our journey towards transforming our city services to electric,” said Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company managing director.

Image credit: Ed Webster via Flickr

Image description: an electric bus on Magdalen street