First Bus to transform Caledonia depot into EV charging hub
First Bus is hoping to transform the Glasgow depot into the UK’s largest electric vehicle charging hub, with the first phase of the project scheduled to be completed this year.
John Dowie takes a look at the progress the bus sector has made since the launch of the National Bus Strategy
Work has begun on a new project by First Bus that will transform its Glasgow Caledonia bus depot into the UK’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging hub. The plans are another major step forward in the leading transport operator’s sustainable travel agenda and follows their pledge to only invest in low and zero-emission vehicles from December 2022, with a 100 percent zero-emission fleet by 2035.
With phased completion scheduled across the next 18 months, the redeveloped Caledonia depot, already the UK’s largest bus depot, will have space to charge up to 300 EV buses on site. The first phase of the project, now underway, will see 11 dual DC rapid charging units installed.
Phase One of the depot transformation is expected to be complete by September this year, allowing for the introduction of a further 22 electric buses to Glasgow’s streets ahead of COP26, the United Nations Climate Change conference.
First Bus says Phase Two of the project is scheduled to start later this summer and will see a further 69 dual-headed DC charging units installed over a six-month period, increasing the number of chargers on the site to 162. The transformation has been made possible in part due to First Bus being awarded a further £24.3m in a successful bid in the second round of the Scottish Ultra Low Bus Scheme (SULEB).
“First Bus is at the forefront of the green transport revolution, and we continue to fast-track our efforts to surpass passenger expectations. We are proud to be announcing the UK’s largest EV charging infrastructure as part of our transition to a zero-emission fleet,” said Janette Bell, Managing Director for First Bus UK.
“We are making excellent progress on our commitments to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions in our communities. By improving the air quality in the areas we operate within, we are supporting the health of our customers, and by cutting carbon emissions we are putting our weight behind Scotland’s ambitious plans for tackling the global threat of climate change.
“Launching this project at Caledonia depot, the largest of its kind, is a very exciting next step and reinforces that both First Bus and our stakeholders are making continued investment in the future of bus.”
Progressing toward a zero-emission fleet
First Bus says its long-term objective is to ensure that the site is fully prepared for the transition to net zero operations. This includes further opportunities for on-site renewable energy, storage technologies and renewable energy utility supply.
“This is an ambitious and exciting plan that will have positive implications for the entire city of Glasgow. We’re thrilled that Transport Scotland understood our vision from the very beginning and that we are starting work on this large-scale project that will help us move closer towards a zero-emission fleet,” added Andrew Jarvis, Portfolio Managing Director responsible for First’s operating companies in the devolved nations, including First Scotland.
“Over the coming months we will take delivery of 22 ADL/BYD EV buses from Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) in Falkirk, with a further 126 buses delivered and in service over 2021 and 2022, with the order complete by spring 2023.”