THE first electric open-top double decker bus has arrived in Oxford – helping to reduce air pollution ahead of the launch of the city's Zero Emission Zone.

The bus is the first of five open-top City Sightseeing Oxford buses, owned by the Oxford Bus Company, that are being retrofitted to electric.

City Sightseeing Oxford buses operate one hour guided hop-on, hop-off open-top tours of the city and take in the best tourist attractions. Each bus is fitted with recorded commentaries in 13 different languages.

Oxford Mail:

The funding for the buses was provided to Oxford City Council from the Government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund.

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In February 2018, Oxford City Council was awarded £1.7m to retrofit 78 buses to the ultra-low emission Euro 6 standard, and to convert five open-top double decker buses to electric.

Oxford Mail:

Phil Southall, City Sightseeing Oxford and Oxford Bus Company managing director, said at today's launch: “This is an exciting landmark day in Oxford’s journey towards improving air quality in the city via the introduction of more sustainable modes of transport.

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"We’re proud to deliver the first electric double decker bus in the city in partnership with the city council.”

Oxford Mail:

In March 2019, the city council secured a further £700,000 to upgrade an additional 37 city buses to Euro 6 standard to help reduce toxic air pollution, bringing the total government funding to improve Oxford’s buses to £2.3m, with a total of 115 buses being upgraded.

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Oxford Bus Company has so far completed 65 of its 71 vehicle upgrades under this programme.

Oxford Mail:

The bus company has made an investment of £350,000, including an investment of £80,000 to install the charging equipment for the double decker sightseeing buses, including a battery storage system to harness the energy produced by their solar panels.

Oxford Mail:

Tom Hayes, the city council’s cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “I am thrilled that Oxford’s first electric open-top double decker bus has arrived in Oxford.

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"2020 is the year that we will see the start of the Oxford Zero Emission Zone.

Oxford Mail:

"Cleaner buses mean that we will have cleaner air and improved health for everyone living, working, and commuting in the city.”

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Over the past two years the bus company has conducted several trials of single decker electric buses on its services, the most recent of these being a single decker electric bus which was used on park-and-ride service 500.

Oxford Mail:

The city and county councils are consulting on a Zero Emission Zone for the city which could be launched in certain streets in December - the red zone.

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Zero emission vehicles would be able to drive in the zone free of charge. Other vehicles would be permitted in the zone but would have to pay £10 per day from February 2021.

Oxford Mail:

Last month, a partnership of the county council, city council, Stagecoach, the Oxford Bus Company and Arriva announced a funding bid to be Britain’s first all-electric bus city.

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The winning town will receive up to £50m.