A new electric bus service has been launched in Leicester, connecting key sites on the city’s outer ring road and beyond. The Orbital service, which is the UK’s longest electric circular bus route, will be taking passengers on a route that includes locations such as shopping centres and hospitals.
The latest addition to the city’s Greenlines electric network, the bus service is the fifth to be launched using the new council-owned electric buses. The partnership project, with operators Centrebus, also includes a brand-new electric bus charging depot at the firm’s Thurmaston depot.
The electric buses and charging depot have been partially funded (£1.21m) by the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme and combine to make the first ZEBRA funded project to be delivered in the country.
“We have worked closely with our colleagues at the city council to introduce these state-of-the-art electric buses to the newly-named Orbital route. They’re the first electric buses in the country to hit the road funded through the Government ZEBRA scheme which is testament to the speed at which the city council and our fellow partners have delivered this project,” said David Brookes, Director of Centrebus.
“Together with the upgraded bus stop infrastructure and additional real-time information displays across the city, these buses will not only improve air quality but will encourage people to leave their cars at home and use public transport. We’re proud to be part of the Greenlines network and the wider Leicester Buses project.”
Launched at an event on October 13 at the Birstall Park and Ride depot, the new service replaces the 40 Circleline service and will come into operation on October 24. It orbits the city’s bus network and is designed to help connect and integrate with other services within the Leicester Buses Partnership, making public transport more accessible and convenient for residents and visitors.
The 30-mile route will operate from Leicester General Hospital, and will run in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction serving Evington, Oadby, Wigston, Eyres Monsell, Aylestone, Fosse Park, Meridian, Thorpe Astley, Braunstone Frith, Glenfield, Glenfield Hospital, Beaumont Leys, Mowmacre Hill, Belgrave, Rushey Mead, Hamilton, Netherhall, Thurnby Lodge and Goodwood, before returning to Leicester General Hospital.
This is the first phase of the council’s plans to radically improve on the previous diesel Circleline service over the next two years, subject to funding available. The first phase includes six new fully electric buses together with on-board displays, real time information and contactless ‘best fare’ ticketing.
Leicester City Council has invested £2.11m in this project, with the aim of removing a predicted 177 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and reducing operational costs by over £60,000 a year. Alongside state-of-the-art new buses, there is also over £10million of planned bus priority works in future phases, supporting the city’s vision for a tram-style bus network serving the whole city.
By the end of the four phases, the route will involve 20 electric buses in total, running every 15 minutes around the city, allowing better connections, improved reliability and further integration with other cross-city services.