McGill's invests in country's largest electric bus fleet for key Scottish routes

A Scottish bus operator is going green after a multi-million-pound investment in the country’s biggest electric bus fleet.

Founded in 1949, bus firm McGill's has depots in Greenock, Inchinnan, Johnstone and Coatbridge.

McGill’s is ordering a total of 35 buses, comprising 23 fully electric single-deck buses for its Johnstone to Glasgow route as well as 12 fully electric double-deck buses for Xplore Dundee. The latter business was acquired by McGill’s from National Express in December.

Under the £17.5 million investment, Scottish bus-builder Alexander Dennis is to supply the 12 double-deck buses plus one single deck bus while Pelican Yutong will supply 22 vehicles to the firm.

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As part of its investment, McGill’s will also install new electrical charging infrastructure for its depots in Johnstone and Dundee.

The electric buses and infrastructure will be delivered in the second half of this year, in advance of the planned COP-26 conference. The investment is aided by the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme.

In addition to the all-electric transportation, McGill’s announced that it is in advanced talks with a variety of partners to bring 12 hydrogen buses into the business in the next 12 months.

The new fleet purchase takes the firm’s capital investment since 2014 to more than £50m – around £40m of which has been spent on new vehicles.

The company is owned by Scottish businessmen and investors Sandy and James Easdale, whose portfolio includes commercial and residential property, transport, manufacturing and hospitality interests.

Ralph Roberts, chief executive of McGill’s Group, said: “Customer and driver comfort is at the forefront of our specification and we are confident that bus users will enjoy the silence and comfort, safe in the knowledge that their already low-emission journeys are now zero emission at the point of use, with the benefits that brings for air quality and the environment.”

Sandy Easdale said: “The transport sector continues to be affected by the pandemic but this hasn’t dented our confidence in the business – far from it.

“When we purchased Xplore Dundee in December we promised we would continue to invest and this brings our expenditure to more than £50m over the past seven years. McGill’s has been built into such a successful brand by our willingness to spend and provide a quality service to passengers and this will continue.”

Paul White, Scottish director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said: “The Scottish bus sector is committed to playing its part in decarbonising road transport. CPT and our operator members are engaging with government through its bus decarbonisation taskforce to identify a pathway to zero emission.

“That operators such as McGill’s are making sizeable fleet investment while still dealing with the impacts and of Covid-19 on services and patronage highlights the level of commitment and sends a positive message ahead of Glasgow hosting COP-26 later this year.

“To maximise the benefit of this investment we also must turn our heads to freeing buses, zero emission or otherwise, from congestion and encouraging passengers back on to public transport when it is safe once more to do so.”

Founded in 1949, McGill’s has depots in Greenock, Inchinnan, Johnstone and Coatbridge.

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