UK’s first zero-emission autonomous bus service launched in Oxfordshire

Posted: 3 March 2023 | | No comments yet

Provided as part of the £4.3 million MultiCAV project, First Bus will operate the 15-seater fully electric bus around Milton Park, providing over 9,000 employees with sustainable transportation six days a week.

UK’s first autonomous zero-emission bus service begins in Oxfordshire

Credit: First Bus

First Bus has announced that the UK’s first zero-emission autonomous bus service has started passenger service in Oxfordshire, as of 2 March 2023.

Operated by First Bus and fully accessible for wheelchair and pushchair users, the 15-seater fully electric bus will carry passengers around Milton Park – a business, science and technology park near Didcot and Abingdon – which is home to more than 250 companies and 9,000 employees.

Services will run every 15 minutes between 07:00 and 18:30, Monday to Saturday. A qualified safety driver is on-board the bus at all times in order to provide a personalised service and information to passengers.

John Birtwistle, Project Lead at First Bus, said: “This service brings together technologies in zero-emission bus design, vehicle movement and travel planning to create a new experience. First Bus serves millions of customers in the UK, and we know that so many of our customers take the bus because they care about our planet and reducing their carbon footprint. We’re excited to now offer them an even smarter, greener and quieter way to travel, and we cannot wait to hear some feedback on the new service.”

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Branded Mi-Link, the bus service is part of a 5-year project called MultiCAV – comprising a range of experienced and diverse organisations led by First Bus, as well as Fusion Processing Ltd, Oxfordshire County Council, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Zipabout and Milton Park.

The £4.3 million project has been funded by a £3 million grant from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) through Innovate UK.

Journeys further afield to Didcot Parkway train station, including a service using a larger electric bus capable of carrying up to 28 passengers, are expected to be added later in 2023.

Councillor Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy, said: “Oxfordshire is at the forefront of the developments in autonomous vehicles and we, as a council, are proud to be a partner. Innovation like this has an important role to play in helping us achieve our goal of creating a net zero transport network by 2040.”