First fully electric Optare Solo for Orkney Islands

Published:  22 July, 2015

Orkney's first fully-electric bus went into operation on the Kirkwall Airport route on Monday 25 May.

Orkney's first fully-electric bus went into operation on the Kirkwall Airport route on Monday 25 May.

Orkney Islands Council took delivery of the new Optare Solo SR in April after the award of full funding for the vehicle from the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland.

Since then the zero-emissions bus has been out and about for driver familiarisation and has been based at the Stagecoach Depot at Hatston for maintenance training.

When fully charged, the bus has a range of around 70 miles. It is expected that it will make five round trips on the 12-mile airport route before returning to base for recharging. The existing diesel JetBus will then provide back-up. A rapid-charger to be installed later this summer will reduce the recharging time to just two-and-a-half hours.

£97,560 was awarded to the Council from the Scottish Government's Scottish Green Bus scheme, and £132,000 from Transport Scotland's Future Transport Low Carbon Vehicle Fund.

OIC's Transport Manager, Laura Cromarty, said: “We were delighted to receive 100 per cent funding support for the electric bus. “We're very pleased to see it going into service on the airport route. It's a great demonstration of the Council's commitment to reducing consumption of fossil fuels by making use of something Orkney has in abundance – locally-generated renewable energy.”

Orkney Area Manager for Stagecoach, Stephen Reed, said: “Providing special training in operating the vehicle has been a big part of our preparation over the past month or so.

“The drivers have been enjoying getting to know the vehicle. We're now looking forward to operating it on the route – we think the travelling public will also enjoy the experience.”

Tim Matthews, UK Sales & National Key Account Manager, Optare, said: “This is an excellent example of Optare electric buses working at their best. The Electric buses are already zero emissions at tailpipe but operating them in conjunction with electricity generated from renewable sources delivers further air quality benefits and an even greater reduction in carbon footprint.”

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