more investment in our fleet

3 weeks ago Wed 19th Jun 2024

We are excited to confirm that we have made a huge investment in future vehicles, which will help continue our commitment to providing the highest quality product for our customers and continue our journey to net zero emissions.

We recently signed contracts with Alexander Dennis to buy 53 new buses to arrive on streets across our network between October 2024 and June 2025.

First up are 21 high specification double-deck diesel buses for Reading arriving between October and December this year. The great news for jet black customers is that seven of the vehicles are for them! There are also extra buses to support recent timetable enhancements on London Line 702 and Flightline 703, as well as some extra lion buses. There are also some that will be painted into our silver ‘generic’ colours which can be used on any route.

a better offering for Newbury customers

Customers on jet black 1 will see a further enhancement in comfort and luxury! The new buses will have all the latest mod-cons that you associate with us including; free WiFi, USB charging, tables, mood-lighting, sky lights, glazed staircases and modern, comfy seats with plenty of legroom, and next stop audio visual announcements.

There will then also be eight new single deck buses arriving at Newbury & District in October to completely renew the local Newbury fleet – the first such event since we acquired the company in 2018. 

These buses are being designed to suit both the narrow deeply rural roads that we serve across West Berkshire, and the busy urban corridors and will be a real step change for our customers in the area, as we bring some more of the Reading Buses sparkle to Newbury & District.

an electric future

Perhaps the most exciting news is that we are bringing 24 zero emission electric double deck buses to Reading in June 2025. The vehicles will be used on our flagship purple 17 route between Tilehurst Water Tower and Wokingham Road, and the claret 21 route that runs between the town centre and Lower Earley via the University of Reading.

As well as being zero emission and helping the air quality in Reading, without an engine or gearbox they will also boast a smoother, quieter ride and an all-round better customer experience.

We have been undertaking extensive testing of demonstrators from a number of suppliers to get the right fit for Reading. The two main things we were looking for were the on-board experience for the customers and driving experience for our drivers. Of all the demonstrators, we found that the ADL version represented the best of all worlds. 

The electric buses have a heat pump installed to provide another first - full air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. They will still be easily able to run for a full day on these routes one charge, something that fits with our busy 24/7 operation.

The electric buses have been made possible thanks to our work with Reading Borough Council to secure funding through the government’s ZEBRA 2 scheme which will cover 75% of the difference in purchase price and infrastructure, with the rest being covers by ourselves. Our depot will be upgraded with 13 fast chargers that can each charge two vehicles at once.

All of this investment allows us to cascade our still extremely green Compressed Natural Gas buses onto other routes to replace some of the oldest diesel buses from the fleet.

Around 40% of our fleet in Reading runs on sustainably sourced compressed natural gas. Whilst our diesel buses are more environmentally friendly than you might think, our gas comes from a sustainable source meaning that the overall well-to-wheel carbon emissions are very similar to those of grid powered electric buses, they just aren't not zero emission.

Whilst we have been waiting for funding for zero emission buses, we have not been idle as our CNG fleet has also expanded by 10% this year, helping to save more carbon. All this investment adds up to a better experience on board for our customers and better air quality around the town and the region. However, the biggest impact on overall carbon emissions in the town can be made by convincing even more car drivers to give up their vehicles and get on board with us.