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Wirelessly charged, all-electric bus route is first for UK

Plans have been unveiled for the UK’s first wirelessly charged, all-electric bus route using vehicles that can match the capabilities of diesel models.

British engineering company Arup and Northern Irish manufacturer Wrightbus are among the organisations that today signed a five-year agreement to run the trial route in Milton Keynes, in anticipation of the end of a government bus fuel subsidy that will make electric vehicles more attractive.

The scheme, which is led by a partnership between Arup and Japanese conglomerate Mitsui, is designed to show that using wireless charging technology to recharge the electric buses throughout the day would allow them to fully replace diesel ones.

Prof John Miles of Cambridge University, who initiated the project and is Arup’s lead on it, told The Engineer that this would be the first time an established diesel bus route had been completely electrified.

‘People have been running electric buses on urban routes for quite a few years but they’ve always put a couple on a route that is already well served by diesel buses and when they run out of puff they simply get covered by more diesel buses,’ he said.

‘[We want to show that] you can put a fleet of electric buses on the ground and expect them to work the same hours and the same hardship routes you would expect a diesel bus to work.

‘[We also want to prove that] when you’ve done all that, it’s marginally cheaper to run electric buses than the diesels. If you can prove that then we believe that the transition afterwards to electric buses will be natural.’
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