Driver training, vehicle testing and route piloting has got under way with the first of the battery-electric buses that have arrived in Dublin.
Nine buses have been delivered by manufacturer Wrightbus from their plant in Ballymena Co Antrim. They are among the first of the 120 vehicles that the National Transport Authority (NTA) ordered in June 2022 to be delivered. Testing, commissioning plus driver familiarisation will continue through August and September using the new buses. Dublin Bus is currently undertaking an extensive training and piloting programme with drivers from the Phibsboro and Summerhill depots.
There is a selection of routes being used to test the range of the electric fleet and provide valuable information that will feed into operational plans for the rollout, including routes C1/C2, 123, 15A/B, 122, and 9.
A total of 760 drivers will be trained up in the coming months.
The vehicles are being charged via the chargers already installed for the previously-purchased hybrid diesel-electric buses. The testing/training phase will take about three months.
The NTA board has recently approved the ordering of an additional 210 buses from Wrightbus for delivery in 2024 under the framework agreement. This is in addition to the 120 ordered in June 2022, and the 91 ordered in Dec 2022. This brings to 421, the total number of electric buses due to enter service during the next 24 months. In other words, within two years, about a third of our urban bus fleet will already be zero-emission.
CEO of the NTA, Anne Graham said: “It’s very encouraging to see the arrival of these buses and to see them out on the streets for training and testing.
“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. This process is already under way, and when complete in 2035 will result in public transport emissions being massively reduced.”
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “These buses are a critical component of the effort to transition our fleet to zero-emissions and to make public transport more sustainable than ever.
“But they will also offer a much-improved customer experience, and as somebody who had an opportunity to travel on one last week, I was very impressed with how quiet and comfortable the journey was.
“And of course electric buses mean that every community will get to benefit from cleaner air.”
Dublin Bus CEO Billy Hann said: “We are in the midst of an extensive training and piloting programme, which is progressing well, and I am delighted to report the feedback on the new bus from our drivers and operations team has been overwhelmingly positive.
“This ground-breaking project fills us with great excitement as Dublin Bus embraces the opportunity to transform public transport and pave the way for a greener and cleaner future for generations to come.
“As we embark on this new and exciting journey, we firmly believe electric buses will bring about meaningful change for our customers, the environment, and the people of Dublin.”
The 120 buses ordered last year are 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.
A depot electrification project is underway to install multiple electric chargers in Summerhill and Phibsboro depots for the new electric fleet. It is intended that the new electric buses will be brought into operational service later this year on an incremental basis. Diesel vehicles will be gradually swapped out and electric buses swapped in on a week-by-week basis over about a three-month period.