First Bus has commenced groundbreaking work to transform its Norwich Roundtree Way depot into a fully electric fleet, one of the UK's first outside of London, as it prepares to receive 70 brand new electric buses scheduled to arrive between Autumn 2023 and March 2024.
By working together with Norfolk County Council an investment of £14.7 million has been secured from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) government funding, alongside significant capital investment of around £22.5 million from First Bus helping to fully electrify bus services at its Norwich Roundtree Way depot.
The introduction of the new bus fleet, built by UK bus manufacturer Wrightbus, means that over half of the Norwich network operated by First Bus will now be electric. That is over 60% of all bus journeys through Castle Meadow in the city centre.
Each electric bus will save up to 60 tonnes of tailpipe emissions per year. This great news for the local community, with First Bus and Norfolk County Council leading the way in reducing emissions to help make the city a cleaner, greener environment for people to live, work and enjoy.
To mark the start of construction, representatives from Norfolk County Council – Graham Plant, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, Lana Hempsall, deputy cabinet member, Jeremy Wiggin, head of sustainable transport and Niki Park, head of passenger transport – were joined by First Bus East of England managing director, Piers Marlow and First Bus decarbonisation delivery director, Faizan Ahmad at the depot on Thursday (13 July).
Piers Marlow said, ‘This is an exciting project that will make a significant improvement to the journey experience for our customers and to the local environment with the arrival of 11 single deck and 59 double deck EV buses. A major transformation of our depot has started, and we are working closely with the site construction team to minimise any disruption to our day to day requirements to operate bus services efficiently.
‘There are exciting times ahead for public transport in Norwich, and I am pleased that First Bus are leading the way and part of this extremely important partnership with Norfolk County Council. Their commitment and focus on improving bus provision in the area is commendable.’
Graham Plant, cabinet member for Highways, infrastructure and transport at Norfolk County Council, said: ‘This work is an extraordinary boost to our ambitions to run a net zero transport system in Norfolk and with the start of this work, we are proud to be able to say that Norwich will soon have one of the biggest full electric bus depots in England (outside London). The support that First Bus has shown in bringing these vehicles to Norwich demonstrates the excellent working relationship we have with our bus operators here in Norfolk and how working together can help to achieve the very best for our county and the people that live, work and visit Norfolk.’
Faizan Ahmad, decarbonisation delivery director at First Bus UK, said: ‘The beginning of the work to electrify our Roundtree Way depot in readiness for the arrival of the new electric fleet later this year is a major milestone on the journey to bringing zero emissions vehicles to the Norwich network. We are proud to be working with trusted contractors and our local authority partners to deliver this programme.’
Michael Doherty, managing director at Stonewood Electrical Ltd, said: ‘Stonewood Electrical is proud to be part of this project continuing the work with First Bus in its mission to become a zero emissions national bus fleet operator. The completed project will provide cleaner air, green growth and improve public transport and health for the people of Norwich.’