Stagecoach West Scotland has taken delivery of Scotland’s first opportunity charged battery-electric buses in the form of six Volvo 7900e models. £2m from SP Energy Networks’ Green Economy Fund (GEF) has funded five of them, with the sixth, and all associated charging infrastructure, having been fully financed by the operator.
The Volvos are based at Kilmarnock depot and they are for use on a route between the Ayrshire town and Priestland. Stagecoach says that opportunity charging was chosen because of the length of that service and the up to 270 miles per day that vehicles used on it cover. The operator adds that is the first such rural route in the UK to be converted to battery-electric operation.
A gantry-mounted pantograph charger rated at 300kW has been installed in Kilmarnock bus station to service the Volvo 7900e fleet with Stagecoach West Scotland. They will be able to cover up to 100 miles between battery replenishments. Charging infrastructure has also been fitted in Kilmarnock depot.
Says Managing Director Fiona Doherty (pictured): “We are very proud to have worked in partnership with SP Energy Networks’ Green Economy Fund to secure the investment needed to launch the UK’s first fleet of fully electric buses serving our rural communities in Kilmarnock.
“Traditionally, electric buses have only ever been used on urban routes and this is a fantastic opportunity for Stagecoach and its partners to show that fully electric vehicles can be used across more challenging, non-urban services.”
The GEF has funded several bus-centred projects in Scotland, with one of the most recent having seen the introduction of the first battery-electric double-deckers by Edinburgh operator Lothian Buses.
Separately, Stagecoach West Scotland was awarded £2.7m from the second round of the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme towards 15 battery-electric single-deck buses and their associated infrastructure.