On Tuesday 25 September 2012, six organisations led by a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co Europe signed a five year collaboration agreement committing to the replacement of seven diesel buses with their all-electric counterparts on one of the main bus routes in the city.
Uniquely, the new buses recharge their batteries wirelessly through the day, which means that for the first time electric buses will be capable of the equivalent load of a diesel bus.
The eight electric buses replace seven diesel buses on the number 7 route in Milton Keynes and run seven days a week; removing approximately 500 tonnes of tailpipe CO2 emissions per year as well as 45 tonnes of other tailpipe emissions. Additionally, the initiative could reduce bus running costs by between £12-15k per annum. The route currently transports over 775,000 passengers a year over a total of 450,000 miles.
The buses charge when power transmitted from a primary coil buried in the road is picked up by a secondary coil on the bus. Ten minutes parked over a coil replenish two thirds of the energy consumed by the bus’ route. The primary coils are placed at three locations (Wolverton, Bletchley and Central Milton Keynes) on the route, and the buses charge in the layover time at the ends of the route.
The trial is a partnership between:
- The Mitsui subsidiary eFleet Integrated Service Ltd
- Milton Keynes Council
- bus operator Arriva
- manufacturer Wrightbus Limited
- technology supplier Conductix-Wampfler
- Western Power Distribution
The trial will be managed by Mitsui-Arup joint venture MBK Arup Sustainable Projects (MASP).
Mitsui's and MASP’s ultimate aim is use the data collected by the Milton Keynes trial to demonstrate the economic viability of low-carbon public transport. This data could be used to kick-start electric bus projects in other towns and cities worldwide; yet another instance of Milton Keynes being used as a showcase low-carbon city.