Bus and Coach

Leicester to get all-electric bus depot after ZEBRA uplift

30 March 2023 #Bus and Coach

First Bus has confirmed that Leicester will house the Britain’s next electrified bus depot, adding to its sites in York and Norwich, as part of a plan with government to deliver additional net zero investment.

The announcement comes after the UK bus operator and Leicester City Council received approval from DfT to increase their sum of Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding – underscoring the importance of delivering the fund at speed across all regions of the UK.

The bus company will invest £6.6 million to bring the project to fruition, alongside additional DfT funding of £2.9m, secured in partnership with Leicester council.

First Bus said it is planning for a further five depots to become electrified by March 2024 through boosted ZEBRA funding.

A total of 54% of the funding will be provided by First Bus and the remaining 46% will come from the ZEBRA scheme.

An additional 18 electric buses will arrive in Leicester later this year, with 86 hitting the road by March 2024.

First Bus will convert the depots and install the new infrastructure to house these vehicles, in partnership with the local Distribution Network Operator and local authorities.

New chargers will be provided by Heliox, which can fully charge a bus in 3.5 hours.

First Bus currently has 328 fully electric buses on order with Ballymena, Northern Ireland-based Wrightbus. At the conclusion of the ZEBRA projects, it will have more than 600 zero-emission buses in its fleet.

Ian Gillott, Managing Director, Parts and Services at Wrightbus, said: “We can’t wait to see these buses in operation in Leicester, which will help passengers enjoy comfortable and cleaner transport.

“We are consistently at the forefront of zero and low-emission travel and would be delighted to progress future orders, dependent on future co-funding opportunities.

“Our electric buses are manufactured and assembled at our Ballymena factory, which means support for jobs in NI, and wider across the UK through our domestic supply chain.”

Janette Bell, Managing Director at First Bus, added: “We’re absolutely delighted that Leicester will become one of our blueprint bus depots of the future, helping us to refine and iterate this new concept so we can roll it out across the rest of the UK.”


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