Fresh investment will see more electric buses roll out in west of Scotland

More electric bus services have been promised for the west of Scotland with plans to build a new Greenock depot and expand two existing sites.

The addition of the new electric bus depot and scaling-up of the sites at Inchinnan and Johnstone will bring 41 new electric buses to the area. This will take the total number of electric buses in the McGill’s fleet to 109.

The bus operator is expanding its working relationship with Zenobē, the electric fleet and battery storage specialist, to facilitate the expansion.

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The move follows the awarding of funding from the Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund to McGill’s for new electric buses and the infrastructure to support them. Zenobē will be funding the batteries on the 41 new vehicles and will be building the infrastructure across the sites, as well as implementing software to manage the fleet charging and resulting power requirements.

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The two businesses initially worked together to electrify depots at Johnstone, Inchinnan and Dundee to facilitate the launch of 68 electric buses. This was partly funded by the Scottish Ultra Low Emissions Bus Scheme, the scheme that preceded the latest fund.

The next phase is already being worked on to introduce zero emission buses to Stirling, Falkirk, West Lothian and Edinburgh.

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Ralph Roberts, chief executive of McGill’s, said: “We are committed to offering our customers clean journeys to help improve air quality and protect the environment and are proud to be announcing another important milestone in decarbonising our industry.

“In the last 12 months, McGill’s has delivered 7.5 million passenger journeys on zero emission buses over three million vehicle miles. In conjunction with Scotland’s clean grid, this is game changing for our planet.”

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Bus operator McGill's is expanding its working relationship with Zenobē, the electric fleet and battery storage specialist, to facilitate the expansion.

Steven Meersman, co-founder and director of Zenobē, added: “We’re proud to play a part in driving Scotland towards its ambitious net zero goals. I am also very excited to expand our collaboration with McGill’s after our significant work together ahead of COP26 in Glasgow last year, which is already successfully delivering cleaner journeys.”

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Meanwhile, billionaire brothers Sandy and James Easdale, owners of McGill’s Buses, have now completed their acquisition of First Scotland East - a deal first unveiled by The Scotsman earlier this month.

The bus operator said it was looking to invest in the months and years to come to provide a better service for customers.

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McGill’s Group has taken control of bus depots in Larbert, Bannockburn, Balfron and Livingston and all of the fleet formerly owned by First Scotland East. Edinburgh’s open top bus tour, Bright Bus, is also included in the purchase.

McGill’s Buses has also completed the acquisition of First Scotland East. Services in the Stirling and Falkirk area will be branded as McGill’s Midland Bluebird while services in West Lothian will be branded as McGill’s Eastern Scottish.
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Some 550 staff have now moved to McGill’s, taking the company’s total headcount to more than 2,000.

Services in the Stirling and Falkirk area will be branded as McGill’s Midland Bluebird while services in West Lothian will be branded as McGill’s Eastern Scottish.

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James Easdale said: “As witnessed following our recent deal for Xplore Dundee and in our partnership with FlixBus, we are determined to invest operationally to ensure our customers receive a service they value and can enjoy using.”

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McGill’s Buses takes over First Scotland East in latest expansion

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