The Orbital service will connect estates and suburbs on the city’s outer ring road and beyond, with locations such as shopping centres, hospitals and other key transport infrastructure.
The partnership project, with operator Centrebus, also includes a new electric bus charging depot at the firm’s Thurmaston depot. Zenobe, the electric vehicle fleet and battery storage specialist, will be delivering the supporting charging infrastructure and charging optimisation software.
The electric buses and charging depot have been partially funded (£1.21m) by the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme and combine to make the first ZEBRA funded project to be delivered in the country.
Leicester deputy city mayor for transport, clean air and climate emergency, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: ‘The Orbital route is a very well-used service, and switching over to the latest electric vehicles means another significant part of the city’s public transport system will now benefit from cleaner, more modern buses.
‘Launching the Leicester Buses Partnership back in April has meant we’ve been able to work very closely with the city’s bus operators to bring forward projects like this to make top-notch public transport accessible to more people while being committed to tackle emissions and the climate emergency.’
David Brookes, director of Centrebus, added: ‘We have worked closely with our colleagues at the city council to introduce these state-of-the-art electric buses to the newly-named Orbital route.
‘They’re the first electric buses in the country to hit the road funded through the Government ZEBRA scheme which is testament to the speed at which the city council and our fellow partners have delivered this project.
‘Together with the upgraded bus stop infrastructure and additional real-time information displays across the city, these buses will not only improve air quality but will encourage people to leave their cars at home and use public transport. We’re proud to be part of the Greenlines network and the wider Leicester Buses project.’