Same place, different time
There was a certain irony in holding the launch of TfL’s new BYD electric buses at Go-Ahead’s Waterloo depot because the last time I was there was in 2002 for the launch of London’s first Mercedes-Benz Citaro articulated buses. They were to be the next big thing in London and I still don’t believe that there was anything so fundamentally wrong with them that justified the wholesale waste that resulted from their premature withdrawal, the knock-on effects of which continue in the reluctance of leasing companies, who lost out heavily, to fund buses for TfL contracts that are in any way non standard.
Waterloo’s allocation remains all Citaro today, albeit 12m rigid examples, at least it did until this week with the arrival of the pair of BYD e-bus all electric buses. The EvoBus connection continues because they are undertaking the maintenance of the BYD buses, as they already do for the depot’s Citaro fleet. Knowing this explained the Mercedes-Benz branded lead-acid batteries in what would normally be the engine bay of the BYD.
With the hybrids and more recently the Borismaster now well established, London’s next big thing will be fully electric buses if the potential they promise comes to fruition. They won’t be cheap to buy but operating them may well prove less expensive in the long term.
BYD has come a very long way in a short time, having only built their first bus in 2003. I liked their assertion that the batteries supplied with a bus should last its lifetime and hope this proves to be the case. That these first two all-electrics to run on TfL contracts are from China is something I didn’t foresee in 2002 and the change was further emphasised when, during a press launch photo opportunity, the BYD bus was passed by a Chinese built Anhui Ankai double decker from the Big Bus Company fleet. As it drove past, the message on the back read ‘We’re all over London’.
I’ll be taking a break over Christmas, though I won’t miss what is to be the last King Alfred New Year’s Running Day in Winchester. I plan to enjoy it and hope you and yours do too.