Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon visited Wrightbus today to see the new Zero Emission Buses that are due to start to enter the Translink fleet and be put into public service over the coming months.
The Minister toured the factory and met the team that are delivering a total of 183 new zero and low emission buses, which represents a total investment in excess of £104 million with Wrightbus over the last three years. These orders include 138 Zero Emission Buses which will soon be on our roads.
Minister Mallon said: “I am committed to delivering cleaner, greener, sustainable infrastructure. I have been clear that tackling the climate crisis is a priority for me and I am committed to building a better future where we make zero/low emission public transport accessible to communities across the North. My efforts are focused on making public transport carbon net zero as quickly as possible by delivering a step change on this journey to a greener future. This is a future where our public transport leaves behind a reduced carbon footprint on our planet and where the air we breathe is cleaner as we tackle the climate crisis rather than exacerbate it.
“In line with this commitment I previously allocated funding of almost £74million for the purchase of 145 zero and low emission buses for the Translink fleet. The first of these are due to go into passenger service in the next few weeks which will be another exciting milestone on this journey to net zero. When all the buses arrive and are in service Translink will have the fourth largest fleet across these islands of zero emission buses.
“In November I was also delighted to announce additional funding of £30million for the purchase of 38 new zero emission battery electric buses for the Foyle Metro fleet. This significant leap will see the city’s entire urban fleet replaced with electric buses making it one of the first cities across these islands to have a fully zero-emission bus fleet when all the vehicles go into passenger service in 2023.
“Wrightbus are delivering both these significant projects for us so I am delighted to be here today to see at first hand the expertise and technology they use and to meet with the staff helping us drive forward cleaner, greener public transport across the North for now and for future generations.”
Neil Collins, Wrightbus Managing Director, said: “We were delighted to welcome Ms Mallon here and talk to her about our vision for the company and how that vision not only supports jobs in Northern Ireland and the wider Northern Ireland economy, but is also leading the way in reducing the impact of climate change.
“This year we will be doubling production compared to 2021, with buses going into service across the UK and the island of Ireland.
“We will also see a significant switch in our output from 70 per cent diesel buses in 2021 to around 70 per cent zero-emission buses in 2022. This is a fantastic endorsement of the UK Government’s, and our customers’ commitment to sustainable, environmentally friendly transport.
““Northern Ireland’s recently published ‘The Path to Net Zero Energy’ recognised the part that hydrogen can play in reducing the impact of climate change. We believe hydrogen - both through its production and the manufacturing of vehicles, like buses, that use it - represents a substantial economic growth and job creation opportunity for Northern Ireland.”
When Wrightbus was taken over by Jo Bamford in October 2019, only 56 staff remained in the business. Just over two years on, and largely thanks to its new zero emission products, Wrightbus is now on track to employ more than 900 staff over the next few months once its latest recruitment drive is complete.