The first electric double decker buses manufactured by world-leading firm Wrightbus are set to enter passenger service in Belfast.
The zero emission Electroliners - the fastest charging double deck EVs on the market - are being launched in Belfast by operators Translink.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon was on hand to welcome the first of the buses, which will enter passenger service in Belfast from Monday 28 March 2022.
The launch of these vehicles, which will be the first of their type to enter passenger service on the island of Ireland, represents a landmark moment for Belfast as the start of a move towards innovative, smarter and cleaner transport solutions for a modern city. The new zero emission fleet, made up of 80 Battery-Electric and 20 Hydrogen buses, will be gradually introduced over the coming months and will mean around 33 per cent of all Metro services will be net zero carbon.
Wrightbus CEO, Buta Atwal, said Belfast was a fitting place to launch the first Electroliners.
“We’re incredibly proud to see the first of our world-leading, zero emission Electroliners on the road after launching the model last year - and where more fitting than in Belfast, which is down the road from where they were made in Ballymena,” said Mr Atwal.
“At Wrightbus, we’re not only enabling operators to build zero emission fleets fit for the future, but we’re also supporting jobs and the wider green economy across the island of Ireland and beyond.
“The buses, which join our zero emission Hydroliners in Belfast, will help to make a huge impact in reducing emissions across the city.”
Minister Mallon said: “I became Minister for Infrastructure in January 2020 and from the outset I made clear that the climate crisis was top of my agenda. Our public transport system is at the forefront of this and I want to make low emission public transport accessible to communities across Northern Ireland.
“In December 2020, in line with this vision, I announced funding of £74million for 100 zero emission buses and a programme of associated infrastructure works. This represented an important step in my Department and Translink’s shared commitment to decarbonise our public transport services.
“I recently visited Wrightbus where I had the opportunity to see at first hand their expertise and the technologies they use to build the new buses. I also met with some of the staff working on the project for us so I am delighted today to welcome the first batch of completed buses for our Belfast Metro fleet. When they enter service next week, they will be the first Double Decker battery electric buses in passenger service on the island of Ireland.
“The remainder of the buses will be delivered in the coming weeks and from this summer Translink will have the fourth largest fleet across these islands of zero emission buses – demonstrating my commitment to ensuring Northern Ireland is building a cleaner, greener society.”
Speaking about this important milestone, Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, said: “This is a very exciting time in public transport, as we start to realise our ambitious plans to transform public transport and decarbonise our fleet. The new buses, which will run on sustainably sourced electricity, will offer the latest standards in comfort, quality and accessibility with in-seat USB chargers, WiFi and new accessibility features. They will also come with double doors for getting off, facilitating faster journey times, and improving fresh air flow on board for passengers. With new contactless ticketing also being introduced, these developments will bring a step change in the overall customer experience.
“This new zero emission fleet including our 23 new Hydrogen powered buses, is just the start of a customer-led enhancement programme aimed to deliver bus service improvements right across Belfast over the coming years, including dedicated zero emission corridors, enhanced shelter facilities with ‘living’ roofs, more bus priority and bus stop rationalisation.
“We would like to thank the Minister and her Department for their commitment and look forward to our continued partnership to enhance public transport for a more sustainable Northern Ireland,” Chris concluded.