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Dundonians get first ride on ‘radical’ e-buses that will help clean up Lochee Road

electric bus dundee
Bus drivers Ann Carty and Cameron Bernard by the new electric bus.

With Dundee icons HMS Discovery and the V&A in the background, Xplore launched its new fleet of 12 fully electric buses.

Debuting the environmentally-friendly vehicles at Discovery Dock, it was the first chance for the people of Dundee to get look at the buses, painted in Xplore’s distinctive shades of green.

After speeches by Xplore managing director Christine McGlasson and transport minister Graeme Dey, the company switched on the bus lights as early 90s pop song The Power blasted through speakers.

Other songs played on the night included Electric Avenue and She’s Electric.

See what they did?

Where will the electric buses run?

The green vehicles will become a common sight along the 28 route. Part of that journey takes in Lochee Road — one of Scotland’s most polluted streets.

Ms McGlasson described the choice to place the buses there as a statement of intent.

She said: “While buses only represent 2% of emissions on that street, we felt it was important to put these where we felt they could really make a difference.”

dundee electric bus
City development convener Mark Flynn, Xplore managing director Christine McGlasson and transport minister Graeme Dey.

Three-quarters of Xplore’s fleet is now a low or zero emission vehicle, she added.

Xplore estimates each electric bus will save 120 tonnes of carbon “from the streets of Dundee”.

That figure is based on the buses they are replacing.

Can electric buses make people change their own climate habits?

Transport minister Graeme Dey said Dundee is a natural home for an electric bus fleet, citing the city’s electric vehicle infrastructure.

He hopes people will see investment such as this and be inspired to live greener lives themselves.

“As a country, we’re not going to get where we need to with decarbonisation without companies like Xplore.

dundee electric bus
Sending a message – Dundee’s new electric buses.

“It sends a message to the public who are using it. Hopefully they will take it on board and think about their own behaviours and change that in terms of how it impacts the climate.

“It’s in your face and telling you this is an electric, zero-emission bus and you think ‘why are they doing that?’ and it helps spread that message.”

What will Dundee residents make of the bus?

I put this question to city development convener Mark Flynn.

He said Dundonians can be “cautious” when they see change, but is confident people will accept them.

“Going to electric buses will be radical in some ways,” he said.

“We’re ahead of anyone else with electric vehicles. Seeing that transition away from fossil fuels is the way to go for the city itself.”

What is it like to travel in an electric bus?

The event ended with a short tour of Riverside on one of the buses. Attendees packed in – masked and socially distanced – for a quick tour of Dundee’s waterfront.

We previewed them earlier this year, but it was nice to see the electric buses in Xplore’s trademark greens this time.

For those who live along the 28 route and get woken up by bus engines, those days are over.

dundee electric bus
Dundee councillors Lynne Short and Mark Flynn.

The most obvious difference to passengers and nearby residents is just how quiet the vehicle is.

Yes, there is a whirring sound. But compared to the sound of a thundering petrol or diesel engine, it is almost completely silent.

Other notable differences include just how smooth the bus runs. The constant vibrating and chugging of older vehicles is replaced by a smooth and calming journey.

They also come with modern extras such as USB ports that are now a common sight on public transport.

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