A unique industry engineering forum has been established by two of the UK’s leading bus operators to share experiences of running electric buses, identify best practice and improve communication across the sector.
Electric bus operators
Metroline and Stagecoach have launched the electric bus operators’ engineering forum, which drew 25 engineering representatives from bus companies across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the group’s first meeting last month.
As the two companies run the UK’s largest fleets of electric buses, it is intended that the new forum will enable the engineering teams of Metroline and Stagecoach to share their expertise with other operators. In addition, it is hoped the initiative will become a platform for all involved to provide feedback on the efficacy of zero emission vehicles and the practicality of operations, as well as identifying any challenges, so that solutions can be implemented quickly.
Ian Foster, Metroline and ComfortDelGro UK Group Engineering Director, who is one of the forum’s founders, commented:
“The objective of the forum is to share the positives and highlight the difficulties in rolling out these new technologies in both vehicle design and operation, the pitfalls of dealing with power suppliers and best practice in maintenance and training. It will also deliver accurate feedback to manufacturers to help improve buses and infrastructure equipment.”
Mr Foster added that the challenges associated with electric buses “have created many more issues, both operationally and from an engineering and design perspective, than we were led to believe. Operators therefore need to feel confident that the modelling being carried out by manufacturers is both accurate and ‘real life’.”
The electric bus engineering forum also intends to create a database of warranty and campaign work required and a sounding board to drive design towards “easy maintainability”.
In addition, Mr Foster says, “we hope to highlight the variety of ways that power can be brought into garages and the potential to mix different technologies for providing that power, as we have found that one size does not fit all, for a variety of reasons.”
John Dwight, Sales Director at Imperial Engineering, which continues to diversify its product range in response to the needs of electric bus and coach operators, said:
“As more bus operators transition their fleets to electric vehicles, the introduction of a centralised forum for communication and best practice is a good and well timed initiative. This dedicated engineering forum for electric buses shows how united and committed the industry is in the drive towards electrification of the public transport system. Imperial Engineering hopes to become more closely involved from a maintenance perspective as the forum develops. As one of the UK’s leading suppliers of OE parts and components for electric buses, we continue to adapt and expand our product range, in line with the uptake of more ULEV and zero emission vehicles.”