Transport Minister launches first diesel-electric hybrid buses in Kent

19 March 2013  •  Source: Arriva

Under Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker, was guest of honour at Kent Showground on Thursday (14th March) when Arriva Southern Counties displayed the eleven brand-new diesel-electric hybrid double-deck buses that go into service in Maidstone on 24 March 2013.

Costing nearly £300,000 each, the new buses represent an investment by Arriva of £2.5 million, with additional funding from the Government’s Green Bus Fund and a significant contribution from Kent County Council.

They will run between Maidstone, Larkfield and Snodland, upgrading Service 71 along the London Road, where the significantly-reduced engine emissions of these buses will help to further improve air quality both in the suburbs and in Maidstone town centre.

Using a combination of electric and diesel power, one of the main differences that Arriva’s customers will notice is the near-silent movement from stationary when the buses pull away.

These new buses will be instantly recognisable as they are painted in an eye-catching new ‘Greenway’ livery of lime green and dark blue to draw attention to their environmentally-friendly features.

The company hopes that the combination of the new look, reduced emissions and frequent service will encourage more people to leave the car at home and try the bus for their more local journeys, in turn helping to reduce traffic congestion in the Maidstone and Malling areas.

Arriva’s Regional Managing Director, Heath Williams, said “It gives me great pleasure to make another significant investment in our Maidstone area services, both for the benefit of our customers and the local environment. This investment follows one of £864,000 last Autumn in new Mercedes-Benz buses for our service between the town centre and Park Wood.

“We are also pleased to be the first company in Kent to run hybrid buses and I am looking forward to seeing the anticipated benefits of reduced fuel consumption and further reductions in engine emissions.

“The assistance from the Government’s Green Bus Fund and a substantial contribution from Kent County Council has allowed us to buy sufficient buses to introduce the new hybrid Greenway 71 service and I’m delighted that the Transport Minister, Norman Baker, was able to take time out of his busy schedule to join us at our special event.”

At the Arriva launch, the Minister said: “I am very pleased to help launch these new carbon-cutting environmentally-friendly buses. Buses play an important role in getting people to work and boosting the economy so it is great news when they are good for the environment too.

“We want to see more people using public transport, which is why we are investing in new, cleaner technology through the Green Bus Fund. This fund will not only help make our town centres less polluted and congested, but it also allows bus operators to reduce their significant fuel costs.”

The number of hybrid buses running across the UK is steadily growing and in London alone there are already almost 400 in service, including the first eight examples of the stylish ‘New bus for London’ of which another 600 are on order for delivery over the next four years.

Arriva’s new buses have bodywork built in Northern Ireland by Wrightbus, one of the UK’s leading bus builders, and are based on Volvo chassis, with the hybrid technology having been developed by Volvo.

These buses, together with other fully-accessible buses entering the Arriva Southern Counties fleet, will allow the disposal of most of its remaining vehicles that still have steps at the entrance as the company nears the point where all of its buses will be to ‘easy-access’ specification.

The Kent Showground event was also attended by councillors representing the county council, borough councils and parish councils along the route of the Greenway 71 service that will benefit from the introduction of the new buses.

Speaking on behalf of Kent County Council, Councillor Bryan Sweetland, Cabinet Member for Highways, Environment and Waste said “I am delighted that KCC has been able to contribute to bringing these innovative hybrid buses to Kent. They are not only quieter to travel upon, but save fuel and reduce emissions. It is thanks to innovation such as this that we can look forward to cleaner air and reduced congestion on our roads, as more people choose to travel by bus.”

Full details of the times of Arriva’s Greenway 71 service and the range of money-saving day, weekly and four-weekly Maidstone-area Saver tickets can be found online at www.arrivabus.co.uk/south-east, by phoning 0844 800 4411 or by picking up a leaflet from the Maidstone Borough Council Gateway offices in King Street.

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