First York launched the first of 21 battery-electric Optare Metrodecker EV double-deckers on Thursday 30 July.

They are for the city’s park-and-ride network and represent an investment of £9.3m. The whole batch will be delivered by the end of September. That will take the battery-electric park-and-ride fleet to 33 buses – representing around one third of the operator’s vehicles.

Each Metrodecker EV with First York can carry 98 passengers, although that capacity is currently restricted due to social distancing measures. The model delivers a range of 160 miles. As part of the investment, the operator has spent £1m upgrading charging infrastructure at its depot. That work has included a new electricity substation.

Metrodecker EV fleet in York will cut annual CO2 by 1.6m tonnes

The buses carry a new blue-based brand for the York park-and-ride network. They have audio-visual next stop announcements, wi-fi and USB charging points. Their purchase has been supported by the government’s Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme.

The operator notes that each Metrodecker EV saves almost 1kg of CO2 emissions for every kilometre travelled compared to a diesel bus. Over the fleet of 21, that will equate to a reduction of 1.6m tonnes of CO2 per year when all are in service.

Says First York Managing Director Mark Bichtemann (pictured, left): “This is an important stage in our shared ambition to expand sustainable transport in the city. We are determined to attract more customers to buses and to realising the impact that has in reducing congestion, creating cleaner air and supporting the local economy, not least as York continues its revival from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.”

First new buses with First since 2035 zero-emission plan unveiled

Adds Optare Chief Executive Graham Belgum (pictured, centre): “We are proud to continue our ground-breaking partnership with First York and City of York Council.

“Optare passionately believes in the role of zero-emission buses in the future of public transport. We will continue to invest in developing this technology.” The first Optare battery-electric buses – Versa EVs – entered service on the York park-and-ride network in 2014.

The Metrodecker EVs are the first new vehicles that have entered service with First Bus since it announced its commitment to achieve an entirely zero-emission fleet by 2035.