The region’s first carbon-neutral fully electric bus fleet is being introduced onto the streets of Gateshead.
Go North East’s stunning new state-of-the-art Voltra buses are to operate on the popular 53 and 54 service between Gateshead’s Saltwell Park and Newcastle city centre.
With their futuristic looks, the new buses will be powered by zero-emission green energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro with each vehicle capable of all-day service from a single overnight charge.
Councillor John McElroy, Cabinet member for Environment and Transport says: “This is an exciting step by Go North East and we welcome these new additions to Gateshead’s streets.”
“These futuristic vehicles will not only improve air quality in some of Gateshead’s most densely-populated areas, they will help to further reduce our borough’s reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels.
“Gateshead Council has put the climate emergency at the heart of its policy and budget setting processes, so these are exactly the sort of measures we need to see adopted to help tackle both climate change and air quality.
“These smart new vehicles offer yet another overwhelming reason to leave the car at home and to use public transport. I look forward to welcoming many more such vehicles onto our roads in the future.”
The Voltras are the first electrically-powered public service vehicles to run on the streets of Gateshead since the town’s trams were retired in August 1951 – though these are light years away from the old-fashioned tram.
Each vehicle boasts a host of onboard features including luxury seating using sustainably-produced materials, free wi-fi, wireless and USB charging, seat back phone holders that allow passengers to comfortably watch videos from their seat, and next-stop audio-visual announcements.
Nine of the zero-emission buses have been unveiled as part of a £3.7million joint-funded project from Go North East and the Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Fund, following a bid that was also supported by Nexus and Gateshead Council.
The new all- electric fleet will also be the first to offer ‘tap-on tap-off’ contactless bank card ticketing allowing you to tap your contactless card as you get on and off with the system automatically calculating and deducting your fare. These will also cap-out at the day or weekly ticket prices if travelling multiple times, making sure you pay the best price – no more than £3 a day or £13 a week.
Martijn Gilbert, managing director at Go North East, said: “This is the dawn of a new era for bus travel here in the North East as we launch what we believe are the very best local buses in the UK, and probably beyond, with a game-changing bus of the future experience for customers, not just with zero-emission buses but a range of pioneering technologies and customer features to revolutionise bus travel.
“Sustainability is key and our Voltra buses run on electricity sourced with green credentials, but Voltra is far more than an electric bus fleet as we’ve looked at every detail and maximised the use of technology to provide a new standard in bus travel including customer comfort, information and ticketing.
“We hope that by introducing these fully-electric buses, we can help flip the switch on people’s behaviour too and see more people across our region leave the car behind to help reduce congestion on our roads and improve air quality for us all. Clean, affordable and sustainable next generation travel has arrived.”