£32m Electric fleet roll out in July could bring late night buses for Derry

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It will be another first for Derry as the city is set to roll out a zero-emission, full electric bus service in July this year.

Members of the Governance and Strategic Planning were informed it is hoped to have the fleet of ‘state of the art electric buses in service this summer making it the first city in the UK or Ireland to do so.

Tony McDaid, Bus Service Delivery Manager for Translink explained: “This is a good news story for everyone.

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“From early July, this summer, our full Foyle Metro fleet is going fully electric. We are installing 25 supercharges in our Pennyburn garage which means there will be enough to charge 50 buses but we are also putting in the infrastructure to allow us to up that to charge 80 buses as time goes on.

The electric Foyle Metro fleet will be fully operational in July in a first for Derry.The electric Foyle Metro fleet will be fully operational in July in a first for Derry.
The electric Foyle Metro fleet will be fully operational in July in a first for Derry.

“Once that kicks in we are going to update our current timetable and increase late night services and weekend services initially. Then hopefully down the line as more funding and more electric buses become available we will increase our services out to the expanding areas of the town.

“This is a £32m investment so far, I’m here 32 years so this is the most significant birthday present I ever had”, he joked.

“We are also in the process of rolling out a contactless ticketing system. So you get on the bus using your phone, credit card, tap on tap off. It’s a great thing and a benefit for foreign visitors coming into the city who expect to use their credit and debit cards which isn’t the case at the minute.

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“This makes us the first city in Northern Ireland, one of the first in Ireland, one of the first in Britain to have a full electric service.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson.Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson.
Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson.

Welcoming the Translink delegation and the news that the all-electric fleet will be in operation by the summer, Sinn Féin Cllr Christopher Jackson said it was ‘fantastic’, adding: “Not only will it help secure and sustain the provision of the bus network within our city and district but given the energy crisis we are facing it is a major new boost for Translink.

“It will have a massive impact on the air quality within our city and Translink in that respect are leading the way and we hope others will follow.”

DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney agreed: “The news about the electric buses is great, it’s a job well done. It’s now about encouraging people to use the buses.”

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Welcoming the news of the electric fleet, SDLP Cllr Brian Tierney, commented: “To encourage people onto public transport it has to be accessible and it has to be inviting. There’s a growing sense across this city of people wanting to get out of the car and into electric vehicles and if we can offer this across this city and district all the better.”

Responding to PBP Cllr Maeve O’Neill’s question on whether the service would operate more frequently, Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive said: “We are completely constrained by funding. All additional frequencies and services require funding which we don’t have at the minute. We will take requests as to what people require and if there is enough funding we will prioritise.”

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter