One of the biggest electric bus fleets outside London is being launched in Oxford today.

The £82.5m project will deliver 159 new battery buses onto the streets of Oxford – the first of which have already gone into service. It has also funded two  electric charging hubs at the city’s bus depots.

The scheme has been funded via a collaboration between Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Bus Company, owned by The Go-Ahead Group and Stagecoach.

READ MORE: New electric buses launched for Oxford Brookes University

The council was awarded £32.8m from the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme and contributed £6m directly, while bus operators invested £43.7m.

Oxford Bus Company will deliver 104 electric buses into service and Stagecoach 55.

Working with Zenobē, the UK’s leading fleet electrification specialist, Oxford Bus Company has installed 104 charging points at its Cowley House depot, with Stagecoach also installing charging points at their Network Oxford site.

The charging hubs are powered by EDF Energy’s Oxford Superhub network, providing enough electricity to charge all 159 buses, enough for each bus to drive up to 200 miles per day.

Oxford Mail: Oxford Bus Company's Luke MarionLuke Marion, Oxford Bus Company managing director, said: “This is a historic moment in our journey towards transforming our city services to electric.

"Our first tranche of electric buses is now in service and are already starting to improve air quality and make bus travel an even more attractive option for people to travel around Oxford."

READ MORE: Five locals save pub in danger of closing down

Matt Carney, CEO of The Go-Ahead Group’s bus division, said: “Go-Ahead is proud to be the largest operator of zero emission buses in Britain.

“These new buses in Oxford will form Go-Ahead’s biggest fleet of zero emission buses outside London."

Rachel Geliamassi, managing director for Stagecoach West, said: “As a business we are fully committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035 so the introduction of these electric vehicles onto the roads today is a big step towards this vital goal."

Oxford Mail: County councillor Andrew GantAndrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for transport management, said he was "proud and thrilled" that the county council was backing its ambitions with political and financial capital, alongside partners, to deliver a "safer, cleaner, greener, better county for residents and visitors".

He added: “Together with policies such as traffic filters to hugely increase bus efficiency, we are delivering on our vision of a better future."

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Wrightbus, said: “We’re proud to say our StreetDeck Electroliner BEV is the world’s most efficient double deck battery-electric bus and we have taken that technology into the development of our single deck, which has also been classed as the most efficient on the UK’s roads."

Oxfordshire was one of only 12 local authorities to successfully apply for ZEBRA funding. 

The Oxford Bus Company vehicles have been manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, with the Stagecoach vehicles manufactured by Alexander Dennis in Scotland.

The county council has committed to help reduce bus journey times by at least 10 per cent in the city to ensure the investment is viable for bus operators.

Anti-congestion measures include controversial plans for six new traffic filters in Oxford - otherwise known as bus gates.

Oxford Brookes University launched 21 electric buses in November. City Sightseeing buses are also electric.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.