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County transport chiefs to review trial of electric bus

By Paul Francis

The future of electric buses in Kent is being considered after a trial in Dartford came to an end.

County transport chiefs plan to review the results of a seven-week trial of the emission-free bus on the Fastrack route around Dartford, Bluewater, Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.

The bus provided up to 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent diesel bus and over the course of the trial it covered almost 6,000 miles.

The new electric bus being trialled by Kent County Council (2027008)
The new electric bus being trialled by Kent County Council (2027008)

The politician in charge of transport sounded upbeat about the trial. KCC cabinet member for transport Cllr Mike Whiting said:

“This trial has allowed us to consider whether the technology will be suitable for longer term use on Fastrack when a full network is developed to coincide with ongoing development in Ebbsfleet.”

“It’s also allowed commercial bus operators to consider whether the technology could work for them.”

“We’ve found that the average energy consumption has been very good and because of the dedicated route, the speed of the bus meant the vehicle could regenerate energy in the batteries making it more efficient.”

Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC cabinet member for transport
Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC cabinet member for transport

Working with Volvo and ABB, a Swedish-Swiss engineering group, the electric bus produces no emissions and is driven by electric motors.

A final report will draw together passenger feedback, environmental impacts, vehicle performance and what it means for the future of bus transport in the county.

Cllr Whiting said: “A key outcome from the trial is a list of steps which can be taken to future proof infrastructure so that the technology that powers the buses can be installed at a later date.”

During the trial, the electric bus recharged outside Greenhithe train station in under six minutes.

The OppCharge makes the range of the bus limitless by allowing the bus to charge at convenient locations along the line of route – in fact, a bus can charge within 30 seconds.

KCC is one of only two authorities in the country to have experimented with electric buses.

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