The future of electric buses in Kent is being considered after a trial in Dartford came to an end.
Back in March, Kent County Council launched a seven-week trial on the Fastrack route.
Working with Volvo and ABB, a Swedish-Swiss engineering group, the electric bus produced no emissions and is driven by electric motors.
The bus, a Volvo 7900e, provided up to 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent diesel bus.
Over the course of the trial the bus covered almost 6,000 miles.
A final report is now being produced, collating passenger feedback, environmental impacts, vehicle performance and what it means for the future of bus transport in the county.
KCC cabinet member for transport Mike Whiting said: “This trial has allowed us to consider whether the technology will be suitable for longer term use on Fastrack when a full network is developed to coincide with ongoing development in Ebbsfleet.
“It’s also allowed commercial bus operators to consider whether the technology could work for them.
“We’ve found that the average energy consumption has been very good and because of the dedicated route, the speed of the bus meant the vehicle could regenerate energy in the batteries making it more efficient.
“Electric buses have great benefits for improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions which are important to all of us and we should now be able to provide evidence that electric vehicles can give us both financial and environmental benefits in the longer term.
“A key outcome from the trial is a list of steps which can be taken to future proof infrastructure so that the technology that powers the buses can be installed at a later date.”
During the trial, the electric bus recharged outside Greenhithe train station in under six minutes using Innovative OppCharge pantograph high-power charging technology.
The OppCharge makes the range of the bus limitless by allowing the bus to charge at convenient locations along the line of route – in fact, a bus can charge within 30 seconds.
The vehicle uses an electric driveline featuring an energy storage system used to power and electric motor drive system.
There were eight stakeholder events held to gain further feedback including one that involved students from the Leigh UTC in Dartford.
As a result, several students will be visiting Volvo in Warwick and have information on apprenticeship opportunities.
Mr Whiting added: “The students were very enthusiastic about the technology and showed a high level of technical knowledge around its workings – which was handy as the bus featured in their mock exams.
“The passenger feedback on the scheme has been very positive and I would like to thank all partners for their input into the trial including Volvo, ABB, Prologis, Arriva, Bluewater, Southeastern and Dartford Borough Council.”