Electric buses could be transporting Wigan commuters as early as next year under multi-million pound plans to reduce the region’s carbon footprint.
Stagecoach Manchester has announced ambitious £56m plans to deliver Europe’s largest single investment in electric buses for Greater Manchester.
The first of the planned 105 zero emissions double-decker buses and associated infrastructure is hoped to go live from summer 2019, delivering a massive boost to local air quality and UK manufacturing, with the new fleet fully in place by early 2020.
Stagecoach has pledged to invest £34.6m in the ground-breaking project, which has been backed by Greater Manchester Mayor (and former Leigh MP) Andy Burnham, Transport for Greater Manchester and other key organisations.
The plans are dependent on a bid for £21.5m in support from the Government’s recently announced Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, which is aimed at cutting emissions and ensuring cleaner and greener journeys.
The new Enviro400 EV City vehicles will have a range of up to 190 miles and capacity to carry around 80 passengers.
They would be built by the UK’s leading electric bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis, using battery and power electronics expertise from automotive company BYD.
Large investments will also be made in delivering infrastructure and power requirements at depot level, but it currently remains unclear whether the new Wigan Bus Station - which is due to open by the end of this year - will have any such charging facilities.
Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said: “This game-changing initiative is the biggest single investment in e-bus technology anywhere in Europe.
“It is a clear sign of our bold ambition to transform Greater Manchester’s bus network.
“Our plans will put Greater Manchester at the forefront of the drive to improve local air quality, and help cement Britain’s position as global leader in manufacturing low-emission vehicles.
“It is also part of our wider partnership proposals to maximise the potential of the bus network to drive the region’s economy and better connect its communities.”
The new eco-friendly public transport plans are not just beneficial for the environment, but they will also be a welcome boost for residents’ health.
Less than 12 months ago, shocking data from the World Health Organisation revealed that pollution levels in Wigan leave the air often too dangerous to breathe.
And last June, an environmental study found that toxic cars contributed to 153 early deaths in Wigan since 2010.