A bus operators’ engineering forum to monitor the effectiveness and operation of electric vehicles has been established by Metroline and Stagecoach. Its first meeting in May involved 25 engineering representatives from operators across the UK, including Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The group has been established to share best practice and experience, review the efficacy of buses and improve communication among and by likeminded operators.
Metroline and ComfortDelGro UK Group Engineering Director Ian Foster says that specific objectives of the forum are to allow operators of electric buses “to share the positives and highlight the difficulties in rolling out these new technologies in both vehicle design and operation, the pitfalls of dealing with power suppliers and best practice in maintenance and training.”
It will also “help to deliver accurate feedback to manufacturers to help to improve the buses and infrastructure equipment,” the two operators say.
Mr Foster notes that the challenges of running zero-emission buses “have created many more issues, both operationally and from an engineering and design perspective, than we were led to believe.” He adds that operators of electric buses “need to feel confident that the modelling being carried out by manufacturers is both accurate and ‘real life’.”
The electric bus forum additionally intends to create a database of warranty and campaign work required, to provide a sounding board for discussion and advice and to “drive design towards easy maintainability,” he adds.
“In addition, we hope to highlight the variety of ways that power can be brought into garages, and the potential to mix different technologies for providing that power, as we have found that one size does not fit all for a wide variety of reasons.”
Mr Foster says that such an approach will assist operators in other areas with information on what difficulties are likely to arise as the transition towards zero-emission buses continues, and on what he describes as “the limitations on what is available to the bus market at this time.”