Electric buses to 'stress test' Glasgow's power supply next week

Two electric buses will go into service in Glasgow on Monday to “stress test” the charging network ahead of their potential expansion across the city.

Nicola Sturgeon charging up one of the electric buses today at First Glasgow's Caledonia depot. Picture: SP Energy Networks

Funding from ScottishPower transmission firm SP Energy Networks will see electric buses return to Scotland’s largest city after a year’s gap.

The two vehicles will be Glasgow’s first such commercial, or unsubsidised, services since the 1960s.

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But city council and SP supported an electric bus link between the city centre and the Riverside Museum in the west end from 2014-19.

The buses will run between north Glasgow and the city centre. Picture: First Glasgow

The two new single deckers will operate First Glasgow’s M3 route between Milton, Springburn, Stobhill Hospital and the city centre.

They are part of SP’s £20 million green economy fund to boost the city’s bid to become the UK’s first net-zero emissions city by 2030.

The buses, built by Alexander Dennis in Falkirk, also have USB charging points, on-board audio-visual next stop announcements and free wi-fi.

Their 330 kilowatt batteries are the equivalent of those in 90,000 mobile phones.

The funding will also pay for 20 new electric bus charging points to add to the existing two at First Glasgow’s Caledonia depot on the south side to enable it to increase its electric fleet.

Each charger produces enough power for 40 homes, so SP wants to test their impact on the electricity network to assess the effect of a large-scale bus fleet on its capacity.

First Glasgow managing director Andrew Jarvis said: “Every customer journey on the route will save around 2kg of CO2 compared with driving on your own in an average car, making bus the best choice in reducing the impact on the planet.

“The installation of the additional charging points helps us to future proof our operations.

“As a result, we can now actively start to plan for future investments in new electric buses in the near future.

“Co-operation through partnerships with companies like SP Energy Networks, along with stakeholders such as Transport Scotland and local authorities, are needed help to speed up further investment, the upgrade to the grid and infrastructure, before we can accelerate the transition to an all-electric future for the city’s bus network.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon later plugged in the buses for their first charge at the depot.

She said: "Scotland was one of the first countries to acknowledge we are facing a global climate emergency and we have legislated for the most ambitious carbon reduction target of any country in the world.

"A key part of our plans is encouraging greater use of public transport as well as phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles.

"It's so great to see First and SP Energy Networks playing their part in helping us to achieve our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045."