Transport for London introduces new, higher specification all-electric bus fleet
TfL’s new Route 63 buses feature a wide range of passenger-focused improvements and are completely zero-emission, offering passengers an ultra-modern and sustainable transport option.
A fleet of new, higher specification all-electric buses are being introduced on a key London bus route to encourage even more people back on to public transport as London recovers from the pandemic.
The new ultra-modern buses were first developed around two years ago, and are a sign of what the future of buses could be if the UK government agrees a long term funding deal with Transport for London (TfL). Without a deal, the less green and increasingly ageing bus fleet will have to remain on the roads.
TfL is introducing new buses to the north-south Route 63 that have a range of innovative features aimed at making them an even more attractive, green alternative to the car. In development over the last couple of years, the first buses came into service in December 2021, with the whole route set to be transformed in early 2022. It comes as ridership on the route, between King’s Cross and Honor Oak, has returned to close to pre-pandemic levels.
The new buses feature USB chargers and mobile phone holders in the seats so that passengers can work or relax more easily as they travel. They have a more open feel – with a skylight on the upper deck, larger rear window and handles on the backs of seats rather than vertical poles for an unobstructed view. With high back seats throughout, journeys will be more comfortable, and a wood-effect floor adds to the cutting-edge design.
New covers for the priority seats, with a contrasting colour scheme, help to differentiate them from other seats for passengers who are less able to stand. The vehicles also have a larger wheelchair and buggy area, improving accessibility and helping parents when moving around the city. CCTV cameras have also been upgraded to provide higher-definition footage, making travel even more safe and secure.
Customers expect to have up-to-the-second information about their journey to make instant decisions on the move. New digital signage on board the buses shares a wider range of real-time information, including the time to the next stop, disruptions and service updates for Tube and Overground services. Later in 2022, the route will not only have next bus information at most bus shelters, but also new real-time information screens at many bus stops.
Adding to the appeal of the state-of-the-art vehicles, a new bus lane on New Kent Road is already making journeys faster and more reliable. This complements a route that is already high frequency, with a bus every five to eight minutes in the morning peak.
The buses join an expanding number of zero-emission buses across London, currently standing at more than 650. It follows the Mayoral commitment for all new buses in the city to be zero-emission, with TfL aiming to convert the whole fleet by 2034. With sustained government funding, this could be brought forward to 2030. Continued investment in London’s bus network not only makes buses more attractive to passengers in the capital, but creates 3,000 green jobs around the UK.
Investing in new buses – which are cleaner, safer and encourage sustainable travel – is essential to growing bus use in London. Electric buses cut congestion, with a double decker carrying more than up to 80 times the number of passengers as a car and with no harmful emissions from their exhausts. Electric buses help Londoners to breathe cleaner air and are central to the national decarbonisation agenda. In 2022, it is even more important that TfL makes the bus network attractive to encourage more people to use it, ensuring that revenue is maintained and reinvested into the network, supporting the Mayor of London’s target of 80 per cent of people walking, cycling or using public transport by 2041.
TfL will use customer feedback from Route 63 to inform plans for the wider bus network, with sustained government funding essential to enable TfL to continue supporting the city’s economic recovery. Without a funding resolution, these economic advantages, along with the health and environmental benefits of an improved bus network, will not be realised.
Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, said: “It’s great to see the introduction of this cleaner, safer and 100 per cent electric bus fleet on Route 63. As ridership levels on the route return close to pre-pandemic levels, these new buses will play a significant role in encouraging Londoners back onto our bus network. Unfortunately, we will not see more of these buses if TfL goes into managed decline due to lack of funding. Investing in these new buses and the wider network is now more important than ever – to both encourage sustainable travel and to support the capital’s recovery from the pandemic. The reality is that, without a long-term funding deal, innovation like this on our buses and across the capital’s entire transport network is at risk of stalling; disrupting services, putting jobs at risk and stifling the economic recovery of London and the country.”
Louise Cheeseman, Transport for London’s Director of Buses, said: “We have made significant progress in developing zero-emission buses and with bus safety over the last few years, leading the way for the rest of the UK. Ultimately, any evolution of the bus in the capital is focused on the customer. These brand new buses on Route 63 show our ambition to enhance the customer offer, bringing together for the first time a suite of new features that improve everything from comfort to journey speeds, and make buses the obvious choice over the car.”
“As we recover from the pandemic, it’s vital that our bus network stays relevant and remains an appealing option. Continuing our dependency on cars, especially for journeys that could easily be made by bus, would be catastrophic for our health and the environment. An ongoing investment pipeline into the capital’s zero emission buses is not only essential to keep London moving in a sustainable way, but it is crucial in supporting green jobs across the UK. With funding certainty, we could take our bus network from strength to strength and enable the rest of the UK to benefit from improved buses, too,” she added.
Jon Eardley, Managing Director of Abellio London Bus, said: “Investment in Route 63 is part of our wider commitment to improve the travel experience for customers by introducing state of the art, best-in-class electric buses across London. We’re very proud of the quality and comfort that these new zero-emission buses offer, and will continue to work in partnership with TfL to champion the adoption of innovative, customer centred features to create a safe, attractive and accessible green travel experience for Londoners. Here at Abellio, we believe that continued and sustained investment in the capital’s zero-emission fleet is essential to attract more people to use public transport, which in turn promotes other modes of active travel. Encouraging more people to use the bus by improving the offer to our customers is a catalyst for the decarbonisation of the network and helping to deliver the Mayor’s zero-emission network and active travel targets.”
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