London tests 'all-electric' buses

But can they handle a busy London commute?
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor
London wants to see how all-electric buses will hold up on busy commuter routes in the British capital. 

The city's transportation agency, Transport for London, announced that it has rolled out two new all-electric buses on a trial basis.

The obvious benefit of using electric buses is a that they produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing pollution in the city. But the transit agency also says they could provide a cost savings of up to 75 percent compared to a diesel bus.

The buses take four to five hours to fully charge overnight and have a range of 155 miles. Still, there are obvious challenges to electric buses. Will they have enough range to be effective? What if they run out of charge mid-route? But wireless charging systems that can charge electric buses at each stop are already being developed in Utah and tested in Germany and South Korea.

For now, while that technology is maturing elsewhere, the electric buses in London will stick with two short, but busy, commuter routes.

"Should the performance and reliability of these buses meet London's challenging requirements, this could be a very important step towards adopting this new clean technology in the Capital," said Mike Weston, Transport for London's director of buses, in a statement.

In addition to the trial buses, six more electric buses will be added to the fleet next year. For now though that's a small number compared to London's 600 hybrid buses and its plans to expand the hybrid fleet to 1,700 (or 20 percent of the total bus fleet) by 2016.

Chinese manufacturer BYD Auto Ltd. built the 40-foot, single-deck electric buses.

Photo: Flickr/@Doug88888

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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