Electric Bus Trial

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
James Cleverly
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


How will the new electric bus trial be evaluated, and what contribution will this make to your ongoing work to clean up London's bus fleet?


Answer for Electric Bus Trial

Answer for Electric Bus Trial

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thanks, James.  As you heard, we are going ahead with more electric buses on the streets of London.  There are already ten pure electric buses following the arrival of two Irizar single-deckers on routes 507 and 521 this month, 17 in September and the first electric double-deckers in October.  I did not know about electric double-deckers in York; we will have to look at those.  That is where we are and we will be constantly seeing whether they are good enough in terms of performance and reliability and cost and all the rest of it. 

James Cleverly AM MP:  Actually, my first supplementary question was going to be on the cost.  Obviously there are well-rehearsed advantages to having zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles in London in terms of air quality, noise pollution, etc.  How confident are you that the cost-benefit analysis of a fully electric double-decker bus will be put in place ahead of any wider commitment to procure them? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have to get value for money and there is no point in having EVs if they are simply too expensive, but the technology is getting better all the time, the battery is getting smaller and so I am optimistic. 

James Cleverly AM MP:  With regard to the Clean Bus Summit, it is very exciting sounding ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Were you there? 

James Cleverly AM MP:  I was not there. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It was very good. 

James Cleverly AM MP:  I was not there. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It was a very clean summit as well as the Clean Bus Summit.  The adjective ‘clean’ covered every aspect of it. 

James Cleverly AM MP:  My failure to be there will be one of those life regrets I will take with me to the grave, I suspect.  Obviously with the New Bus for London you have not failed to take every opportunity to highlight actually the economic benefit that is spread throughout the United Kingdom (UK) by the procurement here in London of the New Bus for London.  Can I ask you to ensure that you take a similar approach to the national and, I suspect, possibly international business advantages that could be derived from being seen at the cutting edge of mass transit technology? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, absolutely, and it does madden me that some of this technology is being developed apparently in China rather than in Britain.  At the Clean Bus Summit we had Chinese manufacturers and we had Volvo but we also had Wrightbus and Alexander Dennis (ADL), which are the big bus manufacturers in this country, from Falkirk for ADL and Ballymena obviously for Wrightbus.  I hope very much that when the electric buses come on they will be at the forefront of making the parts for them and indeed making those buses.  Perhaps the battery technology may come from China but I see no reason at all why the chassis and the bodywork should not come from this country. 

James Cleverly AM MP:  Finally, it strikes me that if we are close to getting the battery technology and the drivetrain technology right for a fully electric bus, there should be no reason why other heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) cannot look at that technology for implementation in non-public transport uses.  We have spoken about the number of HGVs that are cutting around London particularly now that we are getting a renaissance in building and civil engineering.  If we could find a way of pushing that technology further into the vehicle market, then actually London could be seen - and I would very much like it if London is seen - as the green vehicle city globally. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.  I totally agree with that, James, and that is a fine ambition for the city.  One of the things we are doing in September is a big step forward on safer buses, safer lorries or safer trucks, but we also need to have cleaner trucks.  Again, the arguments will be very similar.  HGV fleet operators will say, “These vehicles are required to have an incredible amount of torque and drive and you need a lot of power in these things”.  That can be supplied by electric motors.  There is no reason why you should not have big vehicles being powered in a very clean green way. 

James Cleverly AM MP:  Thank you.  Thank you, Madam Chair.