Glasgow has withdrawn from the EU’s €22.5 million Zero Emission Urban bus System (ZeEUS) initiative to boost ‘green’ electric buses.
The technology involves largely or wholly electric buses using inductive (or wireless) charging while parked at depots.
Transport Scotland has funded Scottish bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd to develop the in-vehicle charging pick-up and a spokesperson said: ‘This has now led to ADL working with other UK partners.'
In October 2014, First Glasgow said it was ordering four 'virtual electric' ADL buses. But regional public transport agency Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), said this week it is withdrawing from ZeEUS but is considering other roles offered by Brussels-based coordinator the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).
In its May 2014 response to the consultative draft Glasgow City Centre Transport Strategy 2014-2024, SPT said it was ‘exploring options for the charging of electric buses’ including ‘scope for inductive charging at Buchanan Bus Station’.
A spokesperson told Transport Network ‘a combination of relevant factors has contributed to this decision [to pull out], primarily concerning the strictures of the deregulated market within which SPT operates'.
‘Commercial operators function as per any private company and so factors such as risk, operational feasibility and the attractiveness of other technologies, say for example conventional hybrid vehicles, have influenced the decision of operators, making it challenging for commercial commitment to be secured.'
A First Glasgow spokesperson added: ‘Despite the best efforts by all parties involved to work together to introduce four electric vehicles to Glasgow as early as this year, detailed investigation as to the operation and benefits of the four vehicles has shown them not to be viable at this time.
‘With a projected running time via emission-free electric power of only 15% compared with an initial aspiration of 80%, and no clear benefit to passengers, we do not see the investment as viable. We believe there is more positive environmental benefit if funding is spread over more services on low-carbon vehicles, such as our already successful ‘Streetlite’ buses’.
A UITP spokesperson told Transport Network the decision ‘has not been easy and is completely independent of the willingness of the ZeEUS partners - we are trying to find how they could continue contributing’. Meanwhile, it has issued an ‘exceptional’ call for a replacement city.