James takes a look at the latest environmentally friendly buses that have recently entered service on the streets of Merseyside and Halton. This includes a range of Euro6 rated diesels, hybrid electric, fully electric and gas powered buses.
The first environmentally friendly vehicles operated by Arriva entered service on Merseyside as early as 2005, with a batch of six Optare Solo hybrid midibuses purchased for Ferrylink services S2 and S3 linking Queen Square Bus Station with Princes Dock. These were later converted to run on biodiesel and are now owned by Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire.
In 2013, Arriva announced it had ordered 54 environmentally friendly vehicles for its North West operations after successfully bidding for a grant from the Green Bus Fund. As part of a £15.5 million investment, 44 Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied Volvo B5LH double deckers were purchased for Bolton (11) and Birkenhead (33) depots respectively, as well as ten Caetano Citygold bodied MAN EcoCity gas powered single deckers for Runcorn depot.
Fast forward a few years, and a joint Arriva and Merseytravel bid for funding from the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) was successful, leading to another large order for environmentally friendly buses. This time, 51 Wrightbus Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LH hybrids, a dozen Alexander Dennis Enviro200 bodied BYD D9UR electric powered single deckers and a further nine Caetano bodied MAN EcoCitys were ordered.
The majority of the Gemini 3s initially entered service during the first phase of Merseyrail rail replacement services, which operated from January 3rd until February 12th 2017. The remainder went directly to their allocated depots to be prepared for service, with Green Lane depot’s batch of 25 vehicles entering service on routes 14 and 18 on February 27th.
Speke’s batch of Gemini 3s entered service two weeks later on March 13th on routes 79/79D to Halewood. Since then however, they have been redeployed to routes 80/80A and 82/82D, with the Wrightbus Gemini 2 integrals they replaced returning to their original route.
During the summer of 2017, a batch of eleven Wrightbus bodied Volvo hybrid double deckers from Arriva Southern Counties transferred to Speke depot, with eleven Wrightbus Gemini 2 integrals moving south in exchange. Another seven of this type have since transferred to Speke from Birkenhead depot, giving Speke depot the largest allocation of hybrid vehicles in the North West.
In August 2017, the second batch of MAN EcoCity gas powered single deckers entered service on route 82A between Liverpool and Runcorn, replacing Wrightbus Cadet bodied VDL SB120LF midibuses. This increased Runcorn’s allocation of the type to nineteen vehicles and boosted capacity on the route.
The batch of BYD D9UR electric buses, the first of their type in the UK outside of London, entered service on November 1st. Displacing Wrightbus Pulsar 2 bodied VDL SB200LFs to other depots, the BYDs have a very similar capacity to the vehicles they have replaced (70 passengers overall), but they represent a significant step forward as the largest battery-powered buses to date to operate in the city of Liverpool.
In mid 2016, Stagecoach Merseyside received a batch of 32 brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro400 integral double deck buses for services 14A (Liverpool City Centre to Croxteth) and 86/86C (Liverpool ONE to Liverpool South Parkway/Hope Campus), which were notably the first batch of double deck buses ordered for Gillmoss depot under Stagecoach ownership.
Powered by a six cylinder Cummins ISB6.7 engine, they have capacity for up to 77 seated passengers (45 in the upper saloon, 32 in the lower saloon) and come with a range of extra features. These include complimentary WiFi, at your seat USB charging points for mobile phones and tablets and also dual purpose e-leather seating.
In early 2017, a second batch of Enviro400s were delivered to Gillmoss depot, this time for services 20 and 21 between Liverpool City Centre and Kirkby, although a number were loaned to Chester and Rock Ferry depots to provide extra capacity during the closure of the Merseyrail Loop Line. As per the previous batch of Enviro400s, this batch also features the same extra features for passengers to enjoy.
At the time of writing this article, there are 137 vehicles in Arriva North West’s fleet which are either hybrids (106), battery powered (12) or gas powered (19). I am a big fan of environmentally friendly vehicles, and I am looking forward with an eager anticipation to seeing if more arrive in my local area in the future.1 comment