TRIALS of an electric bus have revealed technical difficulties which need fixing before more are added to the fleet.
The electric bus has been trialled by Oxford Bus Company for the second time, as part of its continued research into green technology.
The BYD single decker, made by a Chinese company, was used on park-and-ride service 500 and tests have revealed potential problems facing drivers.
The bus achieved an average daily range of 130 miles when fully charged but battery capacity can’t provide enough mileage for buses operating on most routes and there are also issues with charging compatability.
Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall said: “Our latest trial was very beneficial, and we gained some valuable lessons.
The feedback from drivers and passengers was very positive but the key issues remain on the technology side.
“Range is an issue and at this stage a battery on an electric bus would only have enough storage capacity to operate one bus schedule out of 19 on our park-and-ride routes.
“The biggest learning was that charging compatibility needs a lot more consideration.
“The BYD bus was not compatible with our charging station, which initially caused power supply issues.
“This will be a key issue for all stakeholders as we develop plans for the Zero Emission Zone in the city of Oxford.”
Later this year Oxford City Sightseeing, owned by Oxford Bus Company, is due to introduce five fully electric vehicles into its fleet, following government funding.
Mr Southall added: “We have always been committed to being at the forefront of leading the UK on environmental technology innovation and over half of our buses are powered by hybrid technology.
“We are also looking forward to introducing electric buses to our Oxford City Sightseeing.”
As vehicle technology develops it is proposed the Zero Emission Zone will extend to cover all non-electric vehicles across the city centre by 2035.
Oxford Bus Company is committed to pioneering green transport.
The city has had a Low Emission Zone since 2014 and Oxford Bus Company was one of the first in the world to invest in diesel-electric hybrid buses to reduce emissions.
The company is upgrading buses from Low Emission ‘Euro V’, to Ultra Low Emission ‘Euro VI’ standard, to reduce the levels of harmful exhaust emissions by as much as 90 per cent.
Stagecoach launched 26 hybrid electric buses in Oxford in 2010 in a multi-million pound investment to cut carbon emissions.
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire managing director Chris Coleman last year described the Zero Emission Zone as a ‘great idea’.