Scottish bus depots set to go electric as eco-fleet takes to the road

Three Scottish bus depots are going electric thanks to a partnership between transport operator McGill’s and battery storage specialist Zenobe Energy.

The tie-up will see the bus facilities in Johnstone, Inchinnan and Dundee being electrified, with capacity for further expansion, helping to facilitate the launch of dozens of electric buses.

McGill’s said recently that it expected to have a fleet of almost 70 electric buses running before the planned COP26 event in Glasgow this autumn.

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The partnership follows the bus firm’s £32.5 million electric fleet investment, partly funded by the Scottish Government’s Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEB), which was set up to help drive the adoption of sustainable transport north of the Border. The scheme has pumped more than £50m into the renewable transport sector, helping it on the road to its net zero ambitions.

Bus operators are looking to introduce more environmentally friendly vehicles onto Scotland's roads. Picture: H Campbell Photography
Bus operators are looking to introduce more environmentally friendly vehicles onto Scotland's roads. Picture: H Campbell Photography

Zenobe Energy is project managing the electric infrastructure implementation and rolling out a software system to manage both the vehicles and the fleet charging, as well as the resulting power requirements.

Steven Meersman, a co-founder of Zenobe Energy, said: “We are thrilled to be working with McGill’s, a home-grown company just like Zenobe, embracing the EV [electric vehicle] bus transition with an ambitious strategy to develop three key depots. This exciting project will help to boost accessibility to sustainable travel in Scotland and support the UK’s drive towards net zero.

“The three depots are a glowing example of what’s possible when private organisations and the government work together towards a common goal, and what British companies can achieve together.”

Ralph Roberts, chief executive of McGill’s Buses, said: “This is another industry leading step towards decarbonising our business.”

McGill’s recently announced a £15m investment in 33 all-electric buses through an order with manufacturer Pelican Yutong.

The latest deal comes in addition to a £17.5m investment announced in February with Pelican Yutong for 22 vehicles and with Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) for 12 double-deck buses and one single-deck vehicle.

The firm said the new buses and infrastructure would be delivered in the second half of this year, in advance of the COP26 conference. Its investment is aided by the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme.

The operator is also in “advanced talks” with a variety of partners to bring 12 hydrogen buses into the business in the next 12 months.

James Easdale, co-owner and chairman of McGill’s Group, said: “We’re thrilled to be making this further investment which will bring our total fleet of all-electric vehicles in the west of Scotland and Dundee to 68.

“Notably, these will be delivered before COP26, significantly in advance of other operators who have placed orders. We have a strong record of investment in McGill’s and this will continue in years to come.”

With roots stretching back to the 1930s, McGill’s has depots in Greenock, Inchinnan, Johnstone and Coatbridge. In late 2020, the firm purchased Xplore Dundee from National Express.

Co-owner Sandy Easdale added: “McGill’s is fully committed to playing our part in creating a clean and sustainable public transport system to ensure more people see buses as a great alternative to taking the car.”

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