The National Transport Authority (NTA) has submitted an order for 120 double-deck battery-electric buses from Bamford Bus Company (trading as Wrightbus), part of a framework agreement which provides for the procurement of up to 800 zero-emission battery-electric buses over a period of five years. 20 of these buses will be operated by Bus Éireann in Limerick city, entering service in 2023.
The buses – Streetdeck Electroliner BEVs – will be manufactured and assembled at the Wrightbus facility in Galgorm, on the outskirts of Ballymena, County Antrim.
The framework agreement now in place between the NTA and Wrightbus has the potential to be the single biggest bus procurement in the history of the State. These will be the first battery-electric double-deck buses to be added to the national bus fleet in Ireland and their addition will deliver a significant uplift in the proportion of low- or zero-emission buses within that fleet.
This historic deal is a major component of the overall strategy to build a sustainable future by decarbonising the country’s PSO public transport fleet, and is in line with a number of key national policy directives including:
National Strategic Outcome 4 in the National Development Plan 2021 which provides for Sustainable Mobility through the delivery of greener and cleaner bus fleets;
Section 9.3.7 of the Climate Action Plan 2021 on the decarbonisation of public sector transport which says: ‘We will transition public bus fleets to zero emissions models though the renewal and expansion of the fleet, allowing for the full electrification of double-decker buses in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway by 2035’;
Section 12.2.4 of NTA’s Draft GDA Transport Strategy on zero-emission buses which says: ‘2022 will see the introduction of fully electric single and double deck fleet and the ongoing conversion of bus depots to charge and maintain the new vehicle types’; and Action 13 and 14 of the National Sustainable Mobility Action Plan 2022 which provide for the transition of PSO bus services in the Dublin metropolitan area, along with Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford to low/zero emission bus fleet.
As they incorporate a fully battery-electric powertrain, the buses will operate with zero tailpipe-emissions, which will contribute to a substantial improvement in air quality in the cities and towns in which they are deployed. Each bus is expected to cost in the region of €670,000, with the initial order for 120 buses representing an investment of some €80.4m. Buses from future orders may also be used to operate PSO bus services in other parts of Ireland, including the metropolitan areas of Cork, Galway and Waterford. Commissioning and training activities will get under way later this year, as will work on installing the necessary charging infrastructure. The first buses are expected to enter passenger service in 2023. The buses will be outshopped in the green, white and yellow Transport For Ireland (TFI) livery which is in the course of being applied to all buses and coaches in the PSO fleet.
Passenger facilities onboard include:
seating for up to 65 passengers;
a permanent wheelchair space;
a dedicated area for the accommodation of a pram, pushchair or buggy;
prominent and distinctive priority seating;
high-definition real-time passenger information displays;
USB charging sockets; and
Commenting on the investment Chief Executive Officer of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham said: “The transition to a zero-emission bus fleet is a central component of our BusConnects project, and the procurement of these battery-electric buses represents a key milestone in that process.
“There is no doubt that people are looking to us to provide better, more sustainable transport alternatives in all areas, and it is incumbent on us as an Authority to respond to that demand in a positive way. In so doing, we will reduce the need for personal vehicles, making the quality of the air we breathe healthier for everyone.
“When it comes to taking climate action, we in the NTA want to play our part and we want to lead by example. We are doing that by transitioning our public transport fleet away from fossil fuel to zero emission technologies and as you see today we are making real progress. This process is already under way, and when complete in 2035 will result public transport emissions being massively reduced.”
Managing Director of Wrightbus, Neil Collins added: “We are extremely proud of this historic deal, which is hugely significant for Ireland’s decarbonisation ambitions and for us here at Wrightbus.
“This deal further cements the reputation we have built in the zero-emission sector, and follows hot on the heels of historic deals in Australia and Germany. This shows our ambition to be at the forefront of the zero emission drive in cities, towns and rural areas across the world.”
Chief Executive Officer of Bus Éireann, Stephen Kent concluded: ”We are delighted to receive from the NTA 20 new double-deck electric buses to enter service in Limerick city next year. These will be the first battery electric double-deck buses to join the Bus Éireann fleet and we hope to have these buses enter service in 2023. This announcement is good news for the people of Limerick, these vehicles are zero emission, reduce local air pollution, are fully accessible and will help Bus Éireann with our ambition to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.”