Transit operator First Bus plans to install 160 charging points at its Caledonia bus depot in Glasgow. There will be space to charge up to 320 electric buses on site. First Bus, which currently operates 337 buses out of the depot, eventually plans to replace half its fleet with electric buses.
The first phase of the project, in which 11 dual DC fast charging units will be installed to serve 22 e-buses, is scheduled to be done by September this year. The charging hub is expected to be completed in 2023.
The charging stations will be 150 kW modular charging stations from Heliox. They will be controlled by smart charging software that will ensure that power demand is optimized, and that each vehicle’s interior will be pre-heated for drivers at the start of each shift. The Dutch firm has previously worked on EV deployments at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and in several other European cities. This will be the company’s first project in the UK.
In Phase Two of the project, which is scheduled to start later this summer, First Bus will install an additional 69 dual-headed DC charging units over a 6-month period.
The new buses, which will be built by Alexander Dennis at its manufacturing sites in Falkirk and Scarborough, can run on urban routes for 16 hours and be rapidly recharged in just 4 hours.
First Bus will invest £35.6 million in its transition to EVs. Each of the new e-buses will cost almost double the £225,000 price of a legacy diesel bus, but the company expects to recoup its investment in the form of lower maintenance and running costs.
First Glasgow has been testing two electric buses since January 2020. Driver Sally Smillie says they have gone down well with passengers, because they are much quieter than diesel buses. “In the beginning it was strange for them not hearing them coming but they adapt very easily and they check now. It’s a lot more comfortable. You’re not feeling a gear change and the braking’s smoother. I think they’re great buses to drive.”