Islanders enthusiastic about new electric bus

AN ELECTRIC bus has been navigating the streets of Guernsey in trials that could see the island’s fleet replaced by a new generation of zero-emission vehicles.

Environment & Infrastructure member Deputy Adrian Gabriel with the Yutong E9 zero-emission electric bus being trialled in the island. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31703760)
Environment & Infrastructure member Deputy Adrian Gabriel with the Yutong E9 zero-emission electric bus being trialled in the island. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31703760)

The Chinese manufactured Yutong E9, has been provided by UK importer Pelican and will spend two days being test driven around Guernsey’s narrow roads.

Head of Yutong UK Ian Downie said that the first day of trials had gone brilliantly.

‘The benefits of our vehicles are that they are tried, tested and proven around the world,’ he said.

‘Not only are they zero-emissions, but they also have unrivalled passenger comfort, including full air conditioning, wifi and USB’s in every seat.

‘Yesterday it was 9C outside and a balmy 19C inside. This level of comfort will encourage islanders to leave their cars at home use public transport, further decarbonising Guernsey.’

The price of a Yutong E9 is described as commercially sensitive, but Mr Downie said that just as electric cars are currently more expensive than conventional motors, the same is true of buses.

‘You are looking at perhaps £150,000 more per bus,’ he said.

‘But although the upfront costs are high they are twice as economical to run – lower fuel, servicing and high reliability.’

Yutong is the world’s largest bus and coach manufacturer with almost 140,000 of its electric buses working in 147 different countries with a cumulative mileage of over 3.3bn miles.

The manufacturers claim that this bus can complete over 195 miles on a single charge, far in excess of the 100-mile daily average of a bus in Guernsey, and can be fully charged within two hours.

The 23-seater, wheelchair-accessible bus is the smallest in the Yutong range, but is wider than buses currently in service on the island.

CT Plus director Kevin Hart is a qualified driver himself and had taken the opportunity to drive the bus around the island.

He was impressed with its manoeuvrability.

‘It’s slightly wider than the buses we have in service but the short wheel base and smaller rear engine size make it comfortable on Guernseys roads,’ he said.

‘Since our last trial, technology has moved on and the range of vehicles is extending.’

Mr Hart said the company was looking to trial other vehicles, and could be trying out another bus from a rival manufacturer in May.

Although CT Plus manages and operates the Guernsey buses, the States owns all the vehicles and would have to provide funding.

Environment & Infrastructure member Deputy Adrian Gabriel, who was there to see the potential new vehicles, said there were eight diesel buses that the committee wanted to replace soon, and that the buses’ purchase price was less important than the States commitment to the environment.

In 2020, the States agreed to an interim target of reducing emissions by 57% by 2030, and identified transport as the biggest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions.

Passengers also had the chance to try out the bus on Friday morning, as it followed a circular route along the seafront.

Everyone the Guernsey Press spoke to was enthusiastic about the vehicle, with retired hotelier Carl Symes describing it as smart, solid, comfortable and quiet.

‘We should have done this years ago,’ he said.

‘An island this size should have a electric transport system.’

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