Are electric buses viable?

Electric bus trial
25 Sep, 2012 8:30am Jon Morgan

A trial scheme aims to find out. And the firms behind it believe wireless charging is the key

A fleet of electric buses will take over the number seven route in Milton Keynes from summer 2013, as part of a five-year trial of the technology.

It will be the first time in the UK that a major bus route is serviced exclusively by electric vehicles. Electric bus trials are already taking place in a number of locations – such as Coventry, Dorchester and Durham – but are only used part-time on short, light duty routes because of their limited range and the time it takes to recharge batteries.

But the new scheme will use wireless charging technology to enable eight electric buses to take on all the duties of the seven diesel buses, which currently operate the service between Wolverton and Bletchley.

Each vehicle will be equipped with enormous 130kw/h batteries – giving them a 100-mile range and a capacity equivalent to around six Nissan Leafs.

The buses will receive regular top-up charges throughout the day from the three wireless charging points installed along the routes.

Charge pads on the underside of each bus will sync wirelessly with pads installed under the road, in a process known as induction charging. Drivers will park over the pads for their 10-minute break, replenishing two thirds of the electricity used to cover the 12.5-mile route without interrupting the timetable.

The consortium of companies behind the scheme – which include bus manufacturer Wrightbus, wireless charging firm Arup, bus operator Arriva and Milton Keynes Council – believe that the switch from diesel to electric will cut tailpipe emissions by around 500 tonnes every year.

Running costs will also be slashed, as annual fuel costs for a diesel bus are around £23,000 per year compared to an estimated £10,000 for an electric one. And maintenance costs will be lower, too.

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This is the way all major cities should be going - oil supplies will not last for ever - and the price of it is spiralling higher each day!

Britain should believe in itself after the great Olympic successes and hype and start creating new jobs and using British technology for all major advanced transport projects!

Lets see Dennis and Leyland DAF and similar advanced buses being built in Britain and being used more instead of importing foreign producrts and creating more unemployment!

We must learn to believe in ourselves! German technology is a huge myth - examples such as the vaunted capital city BER airport in Berlin that should have been opened early this year and "may" be opening late next year at 2 times the original cost or the EURO project are good examples where the myth fell to pieces!

And there are many more!

nobody uses buses in MK anyway, so if they get stranded its no big issues. Plus nice wide roads, makes it easy to overtake the bus when it runs out of charge.

I honestly dont think that is enough, i can say that in my city a bus does around 12 miles on each route from A to B, and according with these new charging stations it would be necessary for the bus to stop for 10min on charging point to able to do another 12miles (i wonder if they included traffic and weather changes), So a bus would spend a good 2h everyday stopped waiting to recharge:S. I might sound pessimistic but i think that is just stupid.
Why not attempt to use biofuel, ethanol and put plenty solar panels in the roof of these buses.
I think an hybrid solution would be the best for buses.

Nikola Tesla (remember, the guy who invented almost everything we use today in some derivative or another) invented wireless, free downloaded electricity from the ionosphere some 70yrs ago without the need for 'pads' etc but unfortunately the American government and Westinghouse stole his patents soon after...famously saying "if we can't put a meter on it, it ain't worth it". Why is this news in 2012?? We have all been duped for decades... Yes, great, an electric bus with 'wireless' charging...on one line in some part of the planet where hardly anyone will benefit...woopdeedoo!
For the love of God...check out Zeitgeist the movie on youtube...and wake up...

Buses should either convert to running on LPG or hydrogen fuel cells.The problem is that both simple clean tech & modern tech is being held back to maximise profit on the old battery tech developed 50 years ago. Rather like the brand new high speed line using electric instead of mag lev tech.

"Trial scheme"? What about the Oxford trials in the late 90s? That was a no-goer as the batteries would not stand either the heavy charge/discharge cycle or the time spent out of service. Wonder whose money is being wasted, this time?

Incidentally, nobody 'stole' the Tesla contraptions - they never worked! If you want 'wirelss chaging', try a trolleybus - it doesn't have to carry a couple of tonnes of battery around with it, but stil has to use peak time generated electricity.

That's not quite how it works, wireless transmission on a country wide scale is pretty inefficient, and of course the supply company will want to charge for the electricity they generate.

Ricardo duarte you missed entirely what was said in the article. The buses will have a range of 100 miles!! The 10 min recharge stops will be to top-up the batteries, not breath life into them for another mere 12.5 miles. If that was their range, the whole project would seem pretty futile. It is not. I also agree with other comments about other prospective options. Fuel cells spew out water, and solar cells rely on nothing more than daylight.