Work to transform the First Bus depot on James Street into the first outside London to be fully electric gets underway this week.

Contractors from Shipley-based Stonewood Electrical have arrived on site and started preparations to install the additional power charging and infrastructure to handle the expanding zero emission bus fleet, with vehicle deliveries expected to start later this summer.

The conversion has been made possible through grants of £10.2m secured by City of York Council from the Department for Transport Zebra scheme with support from First Bus and separate investment of £13m by the operator.

Simon Carlisle, Engineering Director of First North & West Yorkshire, said: “This is the beginning of a new future for the depot and a green transport revolution in York.

“It is real evidence of our continuing successful partnership with City of York Council in bringing major improvements to bus services and supporting a shared ambition for a net-zero transport system and reducing carbon emissions in the city.”

First Bus depot in York set to become fully electric fleet by 2024

Cllr Pete Kilbane, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy and Transport at City of York Council, says boosting the use of such vehicles will help York become a carbon neutral city.

“High quality electric buses encourage greater use of the network, improve air quality and provide sustainable travel routes across York. Working with our partners we aim to deliver a bus network that is reliable, safe, convenient and attractive to residents, commuters and visitors.”

He added: “First Bus delivering the UK’s first fully electric depot outside London to support running fully electric buses is a significant move forward. The removal of the fuel tanks from the depot will be a significant milestone and a positive message for the city.”

Some 28 Heliox Rapid 150 kW (kilowatt) chargers are being installed which are capable of fully charging a bus in 2.5 hours.

First York upgrading power systems for buses

Stephen Wood, Country Lead UK and Ireland at Heliox, which is also working at other First Bus depots, added: “The launch of this depot is a positive step towards making York a more sustainable city and we are delighted to support First Bus in its commitment to transition to electric vehicles in line with 2035 zero emission targets."

These new chargers will operate alongside the depot’s existing electric units which were introduced over recent years to support buses used on York’s Park and Ride network.

Stonewood managed the original electrification construction at the depot.

Michael Doherty, its Managing Director said: “We’re proud to be part of this project, continuing our work with First Bus in its mission to become a zero emissions national bus fleet operator; providing cleaner air, green growth and improving public transport and health.”

Laurence Beardmore, President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “My congratulations to First Bus and its partners on this pioneering move.”