Plug pulled on Glasgow’s pioneering electric bus service

The 100 service connects the Riverside Museum with Kelvingrove, the SEC and the city centre. Picture: Garelochhead Coaches
The 100 service connects the Riverside Museum with Kelvingrove, the SEC and the city centre. Picture: Garelochhead Coaches
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Glasgow’s only electric bus service is to be scrapped just two months before the start of a crackdown on the most polluting buses in the city centre, The Scotsman has learned.

The operator of the service between there and the Riverside and Kelvingrove museums said costs had risen significantly because the four-year-old vehicles’ warranty had expired.

The city council, which subsidises the 100 Riversider service, said that made it unviable.

The four-year-old link will end next Saturday, seven weeks before the launch of Scotland’s first low emission zone (LEZ) in the city centre.

That will phase out all but the cleanest engine vehicles over the next four years.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said “The service was ahead of its time, providing the only zero-emission buses in the city, but it is ironic Glasgow’s pioneering electric buses will disappear shortly before the LEZ comes into being.

“Sadly, the warranty issue means Glasgow’s first modern electric buses will not be part of the bus revolution Glasgow will see over the next few years.”

Martha Wardrop, Greens council environment spokeswoman said: “The SNP council is showing their commitment to sustainable transport is just hot air by axing the city’s only electric bus service.

“Even the cleanest diesel buses still burn climate-wrecking fossil fuels. This is backwards thinking from a carbon-timid SNP administration.”

Steven Street, depot manager at operator Garelochhead Coaches, said: “We submitted a tender to continue the route, taking on full responsibility for vehicle maintenance following the expiry of the vehicles warranty this year.

“Operating these vehicles outwith the warranty carries a massive risk financially.”

A council spokesman said: “The council provided financial support for the service as the main bus operator withdrew in 2013 and we saw the merits in maintaining a direct service to two of the city’s most popular museums.

“Following the expiry of the warranty on the vehicles this year, the large increase in costs that arose during a retender process meant the service would no longer be economically viable.

“The contract will now be retendered again early next year with a view to having a bus service back in place for when the tourist season begins to pick up again.”

Electric buses operate elsewhere, such as in Edinburgh and Inverness, with First Glasgow planning trials from around next August.