Oxford sightseeing buses are going greener thanks to retrofit. Recently the very first electric open-top bus has arrived in Oxford, where the first UK’s zero emission city center is going to be implemented in December 2020. Four other clean vehicles will follow, helping to reduce the environmental impact of City Sightseeing Oxford bus fleet. They are not new vehicles, but units that were already part of the fleet and have been retrofitted. The news is reported on The Oxford Mail.

With regards to the deployment of e-buses for sightseeing operations,City Sightseeing Italy group presented in Milan its first double-decker electric bus in December 2018. The bus is realized by Ankai and moved by ZF electric axle.

oxford city sightseeing electric bus

The first electric open-top for City Sightseeing Oxford

It is the first of five open-top City Sightseeing Oxford buses, owned by the Oxford Bus Company (that is part of the Go-Ahead Group), that are being retrofitted to electric power. The funding to convert the buses was provided to Oxford City Council from the Government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund. In total £2.2M was secured and is being used to retrofit local buses to ultra-low emission Euro VI standard, in addition to the electric conversions. Oxford Bus Company has so far completed 65 of its 71 vehicle upgrades under this programme, the company points out in a statement.

City Sightseeing Oxford, several pilots with e-buses

Over the past two years, Oxford Bus Company has conducted several trials of single decker electric buses on its services. The most recent of these being a BYD single decker electric bus which was used on Park & Ride service 500 and to provide a special Park & Ride service to the Oxford EV Summit, in summer 2019. In the 1990s, four electric Optare MetroRider minibuses were trialled for several years in Oxford, the company highlights.

The first UK’s zero emission city center, in Oxford

The bus upgrades are part of the Oxford Bus Company’s strategy to be as environmentally friendly as possible. It is also part of Oxford City Council’s commitment to continue to reduce levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the city. In Oxford city centre there has been a 36.8 per cent drop in NO2 levels at roadside over the last decade. A key contributor to the reduction has been the Low Emission Zone for buses, which was introduced in Oxford city centre by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council in 2014.

In January this year, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council announced the final draft proposals on the Red Zone for the UK’s first city centre zero emission zone, which could begin in December 2020.

Oxford’s journey towards improving air quality

Phil Southall, City Sightseeing Oxford and Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “We’re proud to deliver the first electric double decker bus in the city in partnership with Oxford City Council. We have always been committed to being at the forefront of the industry on environmental technology innovation and over half of our buses are powered by hybrid technology. At this stage, battery technology is not yet advanced enough to power buses for a full day’s service on the majority of our routes. However, our City Sightseeing Oxford service runs for fewer hours per day and for lower mileage than our other services, and so we’re delighted to be able to convert these buses. Over time, our whole fleet of City Sightseeing Oxford buses will be either zero or ultra-low emission, and our entire fleet of vehicles will be upgraded to ultra-low emission standard.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, said:“I am thrilled that Oxford’s first electric open-top double decker bus has arrived in Oxford. 2020 is the year that we will see the start of the Oxford Zero Emission Zone – the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone. I am delighted by working together with Oxford Bus Company; we can introduce a more sustainable bus fleet to Oxford. Cleaner buses mean that we will have cleaner air and improved health for everyone living, working, and commuting in the city. I am looking forward to seeing more electric buses on the roads of Oxford in the future.”

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “The delivery of this new electric bus comes at a time when our councils are determined to take concerted climate action to cut vehicle air pollution and expand the provision of bus services with our Connecting Oxford plan. The expansion of electric bus provision for tourists and residents in Oxford is a clear sign of our commitment to offer our residents a clean and environmentally sustainable future.”

City Sightseeing Oxford, is part of a global network of operators which provide open-top tours in more than 100 locations around the world. City Sightseeing Oxford operate one hour guided open-top tours of the city. The tour takes in more than 20 of Oxford’s best tourist attractions. Each bus is fitted with multi-lingual recorded commentaries in 13 different languages. The Oxford Bus Company is owned by the Go-Ahead Group.


Related articles