The first fully electric public buses to serve Scotland’s capital have been unveiled as part of efforts to cut emissions by more than 40 per cent.
Six Wrightbus StreetAir vehicles will take on a route serving much of central Edinburgh, between Clermiston in the west and Easter Road in Leith.
Lothian’s investment of more than £2.7 million in the service comes as the firm aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 42% by 2020.
Richard Hall, managing director, said: “Electric is the future. It’s a pretty monumental day for Lothian. Our first electric buses are being launched by the Transport Minister.
“They’ll be going out on the road next week with our drivers, showing the customers and visitors to Edinburgh what this great city’s all about.”
The vehicles, launching on Sunday and operating on the firm’s Service 1, can run for up to 130 miles and take three to four hours to fully charge.
When the buses brake, the energy created will be recovered back to the battery to be used as power for the engine.
Once a further five are added to the fleet in 2018, it will become the first fully-electric route in the city.
Money was made available for the project through Transport Scotland’s seventh round of the Scottish Green Bus Fund.
It was announced on Thursday that £1.4 million had been awarded in the latest round to support the purchase of 47 new buses between four companies.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “This is huge, Lothian is leading the pace with the first fully electric buses here in Edinburgh.
“I’m really delighted for all of us here, the Green Bus Fund (has seen) over £16 million of investment over the seven rounds, over 360 green buses now across Scotland and that’s helping us to reduce the harmful CO2 emissions that often the older buses have contributed. So a great day, but this is only the start.”
Scotland’s first fully electric buses were launched by Stagecoach in Inverness last year.
Some concerns have been raised over pedestrian safety due to the relative quietness of electric vehicles.
Calls have been made to ensure they are loud enough to hear, particularly for those who have problems with their sight.
A spokeswoman for Guide Dogs said: “People with sight loss rely on being able to hear vehicles to cross the road safely.
“Guide Dogs wants all quiet electric and hybrid vehicles to have sound generating systems built in so that they can be heard.
“We recognise the benefits electric vehicles bring to our towns and cities, but it’s important they are safe for everyone.”
Mr Yousaf added: “They are quieter than, for example, your normal diesel buses, but a couple things have been done.
“In Edinburgh for example, I know the team here are already talking to the trams team. If you remember, the trams team had that ‘ding ding’ campaign because they were worried that trams were quiet as well.
“So they’re already thinking about that, most certainly.”