City Sightseeing Oxford has launched an all-electric fleet of open top buses to deliver zero emission tours for visitors.

Unveiled to mark English Tourism Week, the eye-catching new fleet of electric vehicles forms the next stage in Oxford Bus Company’s journey to delivering a decarbonised public transport system.

City Sightseeing Oxford has added eight electric buses to its fleet, which together with its existing three retro-fitted electric buses provides a full zero-emission fleet of open top tour vehicles.

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It represents a £4m investment into Oxfordshire’s visitor economy, as the sector continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The City Sightseeing Oxford team were joined by Stuart Crook, Chair of Experience Oxfordshire, Hayley Beer-Gamage, CEO of Experience Oxfordshire; Enrique Ybarra, CEO of City Sightseeing Worldwide; and Lady Victoria Borwick, Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board to celebrate the launch.

Oxford Mail: The new fleet contains additional features for passengers including glazed staircases and roof lights to improve customers' views of the dreaming spires. It also includes several new safety features, including digital camera mirror systems.

Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company managing director said: “This is a landmark moment in our journey towards transforming our fleet of vehicles to zero-emission in Oxford. The new City Sightseeing Oxford vehicles are powered by 100% renewable electricity and will help improve air quality and make Oxford an even more attractive place to visit."

Enrique Ybarra, CEO of City Sightseeing Worldwide said: ““We are proud that City Sightseeing Oxford is leading the transformation of the travel industry towards a 100% sustainable future by becoming the first-ever hop-on hop-off bus company with a fleet of fully electric buses."

Hayley Beer-Gamage, CEO of Experience Oxfordshire said: “The new fleet is a fantastic example of the confidence and commitment Oxfordshire operators have in the future of our sector and it is great to see City Sightseeing Oxford leading the way on sustainable transport initiatives."

City Sightseeing runs the popular open-top bus tours of the city and the Visitor Information Point in High Street while the bus company also operates the Travel Shop in Gloucester Green. 

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The City Sightseeing Oxford tour lasts about an hour and takes in the city’s famous sights, including the Oxford Castle, Christ Church College, Magdalen Bridge, Sheldonian Theatre, and Ashmolean Museum. On-board digital screens announce attractions at each stop.

Earlier this year Oxford Bus Company launched what will be one of the biggest UK fleets of electric buses outside London, via its city services. 

Overall, the £82.5m project will deliver 159 new battery buses onto the streets of Oxford.

It has also funded two associated electric charging hubs at the city’s bus depots. Oxford Bus Company has installed 104 charging points at its Cowley House depot.

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

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.

The first buses in the sightseeing fleet went electric in 2020.

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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.