Derry to have north's first fully electric bus fleet by July

A zero-emission fleet is to be operating throughout Derry city by the summer, Translink has confirmed.
Gillian Anderson

Derry is set to become the first city in the north to have a fully electric, zero-emission bus service this summer.

The Foyle Metro service fleet will be powered by 25 new superchargers installed in the city's Pennyburn bus depot, which will be enough to initially run 50 buses before a future upgrade allows 80 buses to be charged. 

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Governance and Strategic Planning Committee have been told that the future increase in charge power, resulting from a £32 million investment, will precede an increase in late night and weekend services.

Translink bus service delivery manager Tom McDaid told committee members: “Then, hopefully down the line as more funding and more electric buses become available, we will increase our services out to the expanding areas of the town."

However, Translink's CEO Chris Conway warned the bus and rail operator was "completely constrained by funding" and future service expansion would be decided on a priority demand basis.

Mr McDaid also described how the Derry Metro service was rolling out a contactless ticketing system.

He said: "So you get on the bus using your phone, credit card, tap on tap off. It’s a great thing and a benefit for foreign visitors coming into the city who expect to use their credit and debit cards which isn’t the case at the minute.

“This makes us the first city in Northern Ireland, one of the first in Ireland, one of the first in Britain to have a full electric service.”

Welcoming the Translink delegation and the news that the all-electric fleet will be in operation by the summer, Sinn Féin councillor Christopher Jackson said: “Not only will it help secure and sustain the provision of the bus network within our city and district but given the energy crisis we are facing it is a major new boost for Translink. 

“It will have a massive impact on the air quality within our city and Translink in that respect are leading the way and we hope others will follow.”

The SDLP's Brian Tierney said: “To encourage people onto public transport it has to be accessible and it has to be inviting. There’s a growing sense across this city of people wanting to get out of the car and into electric vehicles and if we can offer this across this city and district all the better.”

Responding to People Before Profit's Maeve O’Neill on expanding the bus timetable, Chris Conway said: “We are completely constrained by funding. All additional frequencies and services require funding which we don’t have at the minute.

He added: "We will take requests as to what people require and if there is enough funding we will prioritise.”