Author Topic: Two new electric buses for Cambridge  (Read 1054 times)

Offline John Wakefield

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Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« on: February 12, 2020, 05:22:52 PM »
https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/cambridges-first-electric-buses-unveiled-17730405
The Greater Cambridge Partnership provided £400,000 to introduce the vehicles into service. Why should tax payers subsidise Stagecoach on commercial services. Looks like an unfair advantage over independents to a major national bus company. Will two buses make any real difference to pollution levels?

Offline Julia_Hayward

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2020, 06:03:47 PM »
Everyone benefits from better air quality - and it saves the NHS money so taxpayers could be better off overall considering the long-term costs of looking after people with respiratory diseases.

Having said that, they would probably make more of a difference on the diagrams which pass through the city centre most often. I'd guess Madingley Road or Newmarket Road P&R, or Citi 2?

Offline barryb

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 07:06:50 PM »
Even the quoted range isn't amazing, I assume they'll have to be quite careful about how they are used to ensure they get through a day?

Offline Spoddendale

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2020, 09:17:45 PM »
Interesting point Barry.

From the timetable bus 1 leaves Emmanuel Street at 0645 and then covers the trips to Oakington timed at 0745 then 0855 and each hour until 1655. The final trip at 1755 operates via Oakington to Madingley. That is 11 Oakingtons at approx 12 miles each round trip (132 miles) and the final Madingley (approx 10 miles) plus positioning dead mileage morning and night (approx 10 miles) makes a total of 152 miles. The article quotes 160 miles on a single charge.
 
Bus 2 would cover just a whisker  less.

David
 
« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 10:32:46 AM by Spoddendale »
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Offline John Wakefield

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2020, 10:47:31 PM »
Everyone benefits from better air quality - and it saves the NHS money so taxpayers could be better off overall considering the long-term costs of looking after people with respiratory diseases.

Having said that, they would probably make more of a difference on the diagrams which pass through the city centre most often. I'd guess Madingley Road or Newmarket Road P&R, or Citi 2?

Yes of course every little is a help with air pollution, but dont forget the amount of energy & carbon generated in manufacturing the buses and the batteries in the first place, and the generating of the electricity to charge the batteries, all contributing to global warming.

Offline TCD813

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2020, 07:48:17 AM »
https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/cambridges-first-electric-buses-unveiled-17730405
The Greater Cambridge Partnership provided £400,000 to introduce the vehicles into service. Why should tax payers subsidise Stagecoach on commercial services. Looks like an unfair advantage over independents to a major national bus company. Will two buses make any real difference to pollution levels?

The Greater Cambridge Partnership only paid the difference between a Euro VI diesel bus and these BYD/ADL electric vehicles.
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Offline TCD813

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2020, 07:57:54 AM »
Interesting point Barry.

From the timetable bus 1 leaves Emmanuel Street at 0645 and then covers the trips to Madingley timed at 0745 then 0855 and each hour until 1655. The final trip at 1755 operates via Oakington to Madingley. That is 11 Oakingtons at approx 12 miles each round trip (132 miles) and the final Madingley (approx 10 miles) plus positioning dead mileage morning and night (approx 10 miles) makes a total of 152 miles. The article quotes 160 miles on a single charge.
 
Bus 2 would cover just a whisker  less.

David

Spot on with those calculations, David. This is precisely what operations director Ross Barton confirmed at the unveiling event.

Whilst, of course, Stagecoach and the Greater Cambridge Partnership were making a PR event out of the issue of clean air And zero emissions, I think the exercise is mainly about operators gaining experience of running, driving, maintaining electric vehicles.

In this respect, quite aside from the mileage, the citi 6 is quite a useful test bed as it has a mix of urban, rural, level and hill-climbing over the length of the route.
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Offline John Wakefield

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2020, 10:29:13 AM »
The question still arises, should The Greater Cambridge Partnership use public money to subsidise a large commercial bus company? What would be the reaction if one of the other companies currently running stage carriage services in Cambridgeshire (Whippet, A2B, Dews) request a similar sum to add a couple of electric buses to their fleet? I see this as nothing more than a PR exercise by Mayor Palmer rather than a serious attempt to reduce pollution. Money that could well have been spent on the local rural bus service infrastructure.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 10:30:52 AM by John Wakefield »

Offline barryb

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2020, 10:41:40 AM »
It seems to me that the vehicles are potentially sufficiently beneficial that it's worth funding a trial of a risk no right minded commercial company would undertake (which could backfire if the buses can't get through a day, or if the batteries fall apart after 2 months).

Overall though I'm worried about the rush to adopt insufficient technology. It seems to me like banning filament light bulbs before LEDs werexready as a replacement all over again. Any number of technologies could be developed to take over from hydrocarbon buses, but we don't really know what it will be yet. It could be that battery technology needs tweaked, or it could be that an entirely different battery or capacitor technology needs to be developed, or it could be that a standardised battery swapping network needs to appear.

Offline John Wakefield

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2020, 11:18:06 AM »
Maybe a trolley bus network, but I cant see the Cambridge Colleges agreeing to unsightly poles and wires outside their buildings!!  As you say Barry banning ICE engine buses (which now are some of the cleanest emission vehicles on the roads) before new technology has caught up is crazy. I assume the 160 mile range is a manufactures quoted figure, this may be much depleted with heating. air conditioning running. And of course battery life is another factor.

Offline Cheltonian

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2020, 07:53:36 PM »
I haven't seen quoted how long it takes to replenish the batteries and whether it can be completed between shift's.
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Offline barryb

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2020, 08:21:15 PM »
There's a sign on the buses that says it takes 8 hours.

Offline dwarfer1979

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2020, 09:01:19 AM »
The question still arises, should The Greater Cambridge Partnership use public money to subsidise a large commercial bus company? What would be the reaction if one of the other companies currently running stage carriage services in Cambridgeshire (Whippet, A2B, Dews) request a similar sum to add a couple of electric buses to their fleet? I see this as nothing more than a PR exercise by Mayor Palmer rather than a serious attempt to reduce pollution. Money that could well have been spent on the local rural bus service infrastructure.
The reaction if any of the other companies made a similar request would undoubtably be the same, if anything it would be more positive as the biggest concern is how will smaller operators cope with the switch to these models.  I know from working for a larger independent that few of our depots are located in areas to cope with the electrical demands, large enough or laid out sufficiently to accommodate charging electric buses in any numbers.  Pretty much all electric buses have been funded by outside funding of some description (whether through council contract payments, government grants from one organisation or another or in a couple of cases from electric suppliers).  I'm not sure how much of the electric fleet that Stagecoach is rolling out in Manchester is funded by outside sources and if any is commercially funded by Stagecoach but even here it could be argued it is political motivated to show up TfGMs franchising plans and that Partnership working would deliver faster.

Often these sort of projects come from funding streams that are designated for strategic infrastructure projects & one-off grants and not available for revenue funding such as supporting bus services.  We can argue that these sort of distinctions are unhelpful and that repeated governments of all colours have been overly drawn to funding big note schemes that offer a nice photo op over supporting the important day to day funding of the services that people actually rely on.

Electric buses are still a work in progress (& hydrogen fuel-cells even more so) and they need volume sales & real world experience to develop into a finished product which is where all these funded schemes & trials come in.  The principal issues are range (which limit what work they can do or how many vehicles you need to buy) & battery life (which undermines the cost comparisons with ICE as batteries need to be replaced after about 7 years) which also affect cost (if you have to buy an extra bus(es) to cover a route to allow for mid-shift charging that inflates the cost as well) stopping them being a commercial proposition which makes it difficult to build up the build volumes which help reduce the up-front purchase costs.  There is a question whether it is realistic to look for zero-emission for all bus services, a lot of interurban services have workings doing double (or more) the range of current electric buses.  Single-deck electrics have a greater range than that quoted for the double-deckers but it is still only just about sufficient for some congested urban cycles but struggle to deal with longer days or services.

Offline John Wakefield

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2020, 12:16:32 PM »
Some good points there dwarfer, Although battery technology & electric vehicle technology has gone forward in leaps and bounds since the milk float, there is still a long way to go, no doubt it will get better in the future, but there will always be the question of battery life. A battery pack cannot be effectively rebuilt, where as an ICE can be rebuilt indefinitely subject to spares. And of course electricity needs to be generated and that takes energy to produce.
As you also say is it realistic to look for zero-emission for all bus services, the majority of pollution comes from private cars. Get these out of city centres and you have solved the problem
I must admit I am somewhat sceptical about the climate change thing, I believe that this is a natural phenomenon which will happen anyway, (we are all doomed), looking way back through time there have been climate change issues before, the Ice Age for example, no motor vehicle pollution then. The whole universe is a fragile thing and it only needs the earth to change its axis a small amount to drastically change the climate. Nature usually has a way of repairing things, and after a few million years something is due to happen! As for the pollution side of it, are things really that bad now, back in the 1950's and 60's we had thick fogs and smogs arising from domestic coal fires & factories. We dont have those anymore.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 12:25:57 PM by John Wakefield »

Offline Julia_Hayward

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2020, 03:58:17 PM »
Having said that, they would probably make more of a difference on the diagrams which pass through the city centre most often. I'd guess Madingley Road or Newmarket Road P&R, or Citi 2?

Of course I overlooked that the 6 has a PVR of 2. Makes sense to convert one service entirely.

Offline Coast_Hopper

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2020, 12:39:28 PM »
I did hear that the National Grid would only allow 2 of these buses and no more

With that does it make any difference to have 2 of these buses compared 2 standard ones, would of thought it would be better to have more of them

Offline Julia_Hayward

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2020, 01:15:12 PM »
Presumably that's "not allowed until local electricity infrastructure is improved", and part of the trial is for the Grid to work out if doing the necessary work to support more is justified. They're clearly OK with 32 of them in Manchester...

Offline Steves

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2020, 06:24:15 PM »
I did hear that the National Grid would only allow 2 of these buses and no more


The grid in north Cambridge seems to be a mess and not changing very quickly.  The combined heat system at Eddington did not connect to the grid when it was ready because the access point was not available.  Likewise, the (disputed) incinerator at Waterbeach could not connect to the nearest access point but was to be connected at an access point in Arbury.  Judging by Eddington, providing enough grid capacity for a reasonable number of buses could take 2 + years and there is potential for the Cowley Road depot to move or be planning a move in that time.  I am not sure how it is affected by the CB4 development around Cambridge North station.

Offline TCD813

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2020, 08:14:10 PM »
The question still arises, should The Greater Cambridge Partnership use public money to subsidise a large commercial bus company? What would be the reaction if one of the other companies currently running stage carriage services in Cambridgeshire (Whippet, A2B, Dews) request a similar sum to add a couple of electric buses to their fleet? I see this as nothing more than a PR exercise by Mayor Palmer rather than a serious attempt to reduce pollution. Money that could well have been spent on the local rural bus service infrastructure.

Hi, John, this was funded by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, not the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority of which James Palmer is mayor.

Yes, I know, we know, anybody has looked at the levels of local governance, locally, will be throwing up their hands in despair at the number of tiers with which we have to grapple.
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Offline TCD813

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2020, 08:25:18 PM »
As you say Barry banning ICE engine buses (which now are some of the cleanest emission vehicles on the roads) before new technology has caught up is crazy. I assume the 160 mile range is a manufactures quoted figure, this may be much depleted with heating. air conditioning running. And of course battery life is another factor.

Well, yes, John.

I have personally had a word with certain councillors about their inappropriate berating of Stagecoach East bringing in “dirty ex-London buses“. These were, as Forum members are probably well aware basis which were converted to Euro VI standard before leaving London and are fully compliant with TfL ULEZ regulations.

With regard to heating, this is extremely efficient, using air-source heat pump technology rather than direct electricity-to-heating.

Edit: correct typo.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 08:49:46 PM by TCD813 »
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Offline Spoddendale

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2020, 05:05:27 PM »
I sampled rides on both buses today and photographed them on the Oakington-Girton section of 'Citi 6'.

This is a link to the photographs:
http://www.ipernity.com/doc/davidslater-spoddendale/album/1263808


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Offline John Wakefield

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2020, 07:52:07 PM »
Went for a ride on one of the electric buses today from Cambridge to Oakington, quite impressive, quite and acceleration certainly up to diesel bus standards. It was late in the day and the bus I returned to Cambridge on getting in at around 6pm was taken off and replaced with a diesel bus as the charge had dropped to 31% and for safety reasons Stagecoach have decided that's as far as they let them discharge at the moment. According to the driver it had been working continuously from 6.30 am though, with a 'dead' run out to Oakington before first service run. The other bus which started from Cambridge was still running in service and completed its schedule. One interesting thing is that the buses have a rev counter for the electric drive motor, cant see the point of that. The buses are limited to 45mph, which is adequate as the highest speed limit on the 6 route is 40 mph between Girton and Oakington, the rest is 30mph.

Offline TCD813

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2020, 08:34:12 PM »
Would be good if they were fitted with guide wheels and de-limited for speed,  as this would deliver the 'dead-running' vehicle to Oakington with less 'dead' mileage.

Of course, this begs the question about why there isn't a circular route Cambridge - Girton - Oakington -Histon - Science Park - Cambridge North Station – Cambridge.

I tried one out, myself, and found that the claim of 'a smoother ride for passengers' was undermined by Cambridgeshire County Council's potholes.
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Offline John Wakefield

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2020, 09:01:16 AM »
I dont think a further reduction in speed below 45mph would be advisable or make much difference, a lot of battery energy is being used at this time of the year running lights, heating etc. as well as USB charging sockets (are these really necessary on a short 1/2 hour journey?), and the on board destination displays / PA system, which although a good thing, is an energy taker. Apparently after the buses get down to 25% battery internal systems like heating, air conditioning and internal lights start to shut down to conserve the batteries. Presumably in the summer with heating off, and no lights,  the range should increase enough to complete the day, although of course the air conditioning will still be running. Solar panels built into the roof would also have helped to increase the range (on sunny days) but that would have made the buses even more expensive.

Offline HughT

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2020, 09:25:21 AM »
Just for my own education... Does anyone know what the variables are that mean that these vehicles can sometimes go all day - 13 hours, including running empty to/from Cowley Rd - and yet, as reported yesterday, sometimes have to be taken out of service without having completed their full roster of trips? (I'm assuming, of course, that they always start the day fully charged!) There's virtually no "dead" (recovery) time between trips, so any time lost on one or two is usually made up later on - so it's not as though on "bad" days they're running significantly longer overall. And the various items John mentioned are going to be pretty consistent from one day to another at this time of year (I can't imagine them driving around with the heating OFF...). Thanks in advance.

Offline TCD813

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2020, 11:27:32 AM »
Just for my own education... Does anyone know what the variables are that mean that these vehicles can sometimes go all day - 13 hours, including running empty to/from Cowley Rd - and yet, as reported yesterday, sometimes have to be taken out of service without having completed their full roster of trips? (I'm assuming, of course, that they always start the day fully charged!) There's virtually no "dead" (recovery) time between trips, so any time lost on one or two is usually made up later on - so it's not as though on "bad" days they're running significantly longer overall. And the various items John mentioned are going to be pretty consistent from one day to another at this time of year (I can't imagine them driving around with the heating OFF...). Thanks in advance.

They're kept on charge constantly in Cowley Road depot until fully charged, other than in the washers. Whist over the pits, or otherwise in maintenance, a portable charger is used.

They incorporate air source heat pumps for interior heating which, typically, produce 3kw to 4kw of heat for every 1kw of electricity consumed. All lighting is LED.
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Offline busman

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2020, 04:08:58 PM »
There is a third electric currently parked up in Cowley Road unbranded I beleive she will be heading up to Manchester to rejoin her sisters.https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr-bg/49584412497/in/photostream
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Offline Habbinman

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2020, 04:40:43 PM »
There is a third electric currently parked up in Cowley Road unbranded I beleive she will be heading up to Manchester to rejoin her sisters.https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr-bg/49584412497/in/photostream
Your photo is of LF69UYY which as you say belongs to Manchester & is 14031.   

Just to let you know that the week before "our" two (14033/4) entered service, there were actually FOUR EVs at Cowley Rd, as Manchester's 14032 LF69UYZ was also here, being used for Driver Training whilst 14033/4 were prepared for service with ticket machines etc !!

Offline TCD813

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2020, 04:47:14 PM »
There is a third electric currently parked up in Cowley Road unbranded I beleive she will be heading up to Manchester to rejoin her sisters.https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr-bg/49584412497/in/photostream

The journey to Manchester will need careful planning for re-charging en-route.
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Offline Habbinman

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Re: Two new electric buses for Cambridge
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2020, 05:09:51 PM »
The journey to Manchester will need careful planning for re-charging en-route.

It's possible they might be using a Lowloader to transport them ?  However, if not, I think they may go via South Anston, as some of Manchester's were stored there, after build. There's charging facilities there.