The Oxford Bus Company has inaugurated Oxford's maiden electric bus service, featuring 21 Wrightbus StreetDeck Electoliners set to be operational by year-end. In a partnership with Oxford Brookes University, the electric buses will replace the current diesel fleet and be charged by Zenobe, with service commencement expected by the end of this year.
Owned and operated by the Oxford Bus Company, the new Brookes bus fleet showcases the Wrightbus StreetDeck Electroliners, capable of covering 300 miles on a full charge, according to the Northern Ireland-based bus manufacturer. Zenobe, in collaboration with Oxford Bus Company, will provide and install the charging infrastructure at the Crawley depot, enabling a three-and-a-half-hour charging time.
This initiative is part of Zenobē's larger plan, involving the installation of 104 bus charging points as a component of its ZEBRA-funded electric bus rollout. In the previous year, the Oxford Bus Company placed an order for 104 electric buses from Wrightbus, consisting of five single and 99 all-electric double-decker buses, with eight double-deckers designed for open-top use, suitable for sightseeing purposes.
The newly unveiled electric buses, branded in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University, were showcased at the university's Headington Campus. The fleet is expected to benefit students, staff, the local community, and city visitors.
During the launch event, Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes, emphasized the crucial role of the BROOKESbus service, highlighting its integration with Oxford's local Park and Ride Services in 2022, which introduced a vital bus route from Blackbird Leys to the University.
The fleet of electric buses in Oxford will be sourced from renewable energy, contributing to the city's efforts in advancing the electrification of urban transport. Recognizing the safety concerns associated with the near-silent operation of electric buses, the new vehicles will emit an artificial sound at low speeds to alert pedestrians and cyclists.
Oxford continues to make strides in urban transport electrification, evident in the establishment of the UK's inaugural ‘Zero Emission Zone' (ZEZ) by the Oxford City Council last year. The city also boasts an electric vehicle manufacturing facility for Mini cars and an electric vehicle charging hub featuring 42 charging points. In 2021, Oxford City Council further supported the adoption of ultra-low emission taxis.