The electrification of York’s park-and-ride service has been examined by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership. The workshop found the chief lessons to be the importance of an end-to-end solution, and driver training to maximise efficiency.
Investments into York’s existing park-and-ride infrastructure began in 2014. A collaboration between the City of York Council, First York and Optare saw a commitment in 2018 to add 21 electric double-decker buses to the existing fleet of 12 Optare EV single-decks across York’s six park-and-ride sites.
Alongside the investment came a refresh of the park-and-ride’s branding and appearance. This is to set the park-and-ride apart from general bus services and give a ‘premium feel’ to attract more car users, says Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director for First York. Embroidered leather seats, USB charging, onboard wi-fi, luggage racks and next stop audio-visual announcements are provided.
The new vehicles are the Metrodecker EV, trialled in Birmingham in 2016. The 300Kw/h integral bodied double-deck is architecturally identical to diesel Optare vehicles, according to Commercial Director at Optare Robert Drewery. Modular lithium-ion nickel manganese packs are mated to a ZF hub motor axle, with no space compromises between diesel and battery-electric equivalents. The buses are a provincial style vehicle with two doors to reduce dwell time. Range is underwritten at 150 miles in winter. Charging is done overnight via alternating current.
Mr Drewery reports that the first bus was delivered in January 2020, however the planned launch in the second quarter of 2020 was delayed by coronavirus COVID-19. Service launch has now been moved to the fourth quarter, with driver protection screens being sourced for installation in June. First York continues to operate a mixed fleet throughout its park-and-ride depots.
He adds: “We’ve learned a lot of lessons in the last six years in the successful rollout of an electric programme. It’s about partnership from all stakeholders, an end-to-end solution, and it’s important that there is a single stakeholder that requires the project.
“We’ve seen the benefits of First York leading this partnership to deliver an end-to-end solution.”