Prime Minister visits Harrogate Bus Co

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has welcomed progress towards a multi-million-pound switch to electric buses during a visit to the Harrogate Bus Company.

The Transdev subsidiary placed orders in Autumn 2023 worth £21 million for 39 electric buses and to re-equip its Starbeck depot to convert its entire Harrogate fleet to fully electric power. The orders are supported by £7.8 million of funding from the Government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, following a successful bid by Transdev’s partner, North Yorkshire Council.

Accompanied by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, the PM spoke with engineering apprentices and trainee bus drivers during his visit, before a briefing on the electrification project with the company’s leadership team during a tour of the depot’s facilities.

Mr Sunak was guided around the depot by Transdev’s Managing Director, Henri Rohard and Operations Director, Vitto Pizzuti, who briefed the PM on the success of the Government’s £2 fare cap in attracting more patronage.

The Prime Minister was shown the operator’s training centre, The Academy, where he was briefed on SkillUp, Transdev’s joint initiative to tackle the UK’s shortage of expert engineers by attracting newcomers and career switchers into its workshops.

“The Prime Minister was very impressed by the progress made towards our first fully electric depot” – Transdev’s Managing Director, Henri Rohard

Speaking after the PM’s visit, Mr Rohard said: “The Prime Minister was very impressed by the progress made towards our first fully electric depot. Our project includes new electric buses, upgraded maintenance facilities, the latest battery charging infrastructure and a commitment to upskill our colleagues with this new technology.

“Our electrification project has been made possible thanks to significant support from the Government’s ZEBRA fund, and Mr Sunak was keen to see and hear how that investment will help us to deliver a revolution in the quality and sustainability of public transport in Harrogate and North Yorkshire.

“In combination with our existing eight Harrogate Electrics-branded Volvo 7900E electric buses, the first of their kind in Britain, 47 fully-electric vehicles will be in service when our project is complete by this summer. All our bus fleet will be renewed, giving The Harrogate Bus Company the most modern and passenger-oriented network in Britain.”

Three of The Harrogate Bus Company’s routes are to be operated by 20 new Mercedes-Benz E-Citaros, while 19 new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400EV electric double-deckers are to be used to relaunch the company’s flagship route, The 36 linking Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds. A demonstration version of this model is currently with The Harrogate Bus Company, as part of its pre-evaluation programme ahead of the arrival of the first of its new electric buses later this year.

The Harrogate Bus Company is currently working with teams from bus manufacturers Alexander Dennis and Mercedes-Benz to ensure all its drivers and engineers have the training and upskilling needed to deliver the best performance from its all-electric bus transformation.

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