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Welcome aboard: Look inside Dundee’s first electric powered buses

A fleet of fully electric buses are set to hit the streets of Dundee later this year — and we have had an exclusive sneak peek inside.

Some 12 new buses are scheduled to arrive in the city in September and will predominately run on the 28 route — from Myrekrik to Douglas via the city centre and Lochee.

They will be brand new vehicles and be the city’s first electric-powered buses. The fleet is currently made up of diesel and hybrid vehicles.

The 28 service was chosen because it runs through Lochee Road — one of the most polluted streets in Scotland.

From left: Keith Watson, customer development director for manufacturer Alexander Dennis, Xplore Dundee managing director Christine McGlasson and driver Jonathan Eggleton.

While buses account for about 2% of emissions on the busy street, bosses at Xplore described the choice as a “statement of intent” to help Dundee become a greener city.

Manufacture firm Alexander Dennis, who has supplied electric buses to cities including London, Manchester and Glasgow, supplied a demo vehicle to Xplore this week so driving trainer Jonathan Eggleton can familiarise himself with it.

While the red bus on show is more reminiscent of London buses, the dozen Dundee ones will be given a fresh coat of paint in Xplore’s signature green before being rolled out.

What difference will there be for passengers?

In short: very little.

The bus is notably quieter due to the lack of a combustible engine and has all the latest mod cons, such as USB ports, but the passenger experience will be largely the same.

The battery gives 170 hours on a single charge.

Xplore already has several hybrid buses among their fleet, but these would be the first buses that will help them to reach a zero-emissions service.

Each double-decker will be able to house about 90 passengers at a time.

Analysis: Transport and Environment journalist Scott Milne

I am no stranger to buses in Dundee.

Pre-pandemic, the regular services along Perth Road often saved me from being late to the office — so I jumped at the chance for a trip on one of the incoming electric-powered vehicles.

Xplore Dundee kindly offered me a ride — as well as council officials and Xplore management — ahead of the buses’ September launch in Dundee.

Maybe it’s because I have been on fewer buses due to working from home, but initially all seemed as it should be. Talk of a quieter engine, so to speak, was not instantly obvious to me.

However, when a diesel bus passed us as we pulled in at a stop on Lochee Road, the older vehicle was deafening by comparison. I came to appreciate just how silent it was after that.

We also stopped near Lochee High Street, where a small group of youngsters were waiting for a bus.

If their reaction — and instant phoning of friends to tell them about it — is anything to go by, the all-electric buses are going to be a hit.

A quieter Lochee Road will be music to the ears of residents along the busy thoroughfare.

A reduction in emissions will no doubt be a breath of fresh air as well.

A driver’s perspective

Jonathan Eggleton has been driving buses for 21 years, most of that time in Dundee. He took Xplore and council bosses along a section of the 28 route to try out the new bus.

He is looking forward to getting behind the wheel of more of them come September.

“The main difference is the lack of sound,” he said.

Jonathan Eggleton enjoys driving the new electric bus.

“It’s very quiet. You come to a stop and it’s all quiet.

“You don’t get the puff of exhaust fumes when you set off and that can only be a good thing, for drivers and passengers alike.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Zero-emissions goal

Xplore managing director Christine McGlasson described the £7 million investment as a “statement of intent” to make travelling around Dundee a greener affair.

She hopes that, in time, all diesel and petrol vehicles can be removed from the fleet.

She said: “Zero emissions is the end goal for us.

“While buses are only responsible for 2% of emissions on Lochee Road, we chose that route to show we want to play our part in helping reduce emissions in the city.

“I am really excited to bring this to Dundee. Making this investment after what has been a difficult year for public transport is something I am proud of.”

Xplore Dundee managing director Christine McGlasson.

West End councillor Richard McCready welcomed the addition to Xplore’s fleet, saying “poor air quality in Dundee has to stop”.

He added: “We need to make sure that Dundee has a public transport system ready for the challenges of the 21st century.

“I am particularly pleased that Xplore Dundee intend to use their new buses on the 28 service along Lochee Road. These new buses will go some way to promoting better air quality there.”