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Dorchester electric bus gets the thumbs-up
A GROUNDBREAKING new green bus service has hit the road in Poundbury.
The first ever fully electric bus service in the south of England is now operating between the development and Dorchester town centre.
Prince Charles tested one of the two electric buses on his royal visit to the area last week and they have now been officially launched.
The two electric buses will replace the existing diesel-powered vehicles on the number 6 service between Poundbury and Dorchester to provide a half-hourly link between the two communities.
The vehicles cost £197,000 each and were made possible by a £166,000 grant from the Department for Transport’s Green Bus Fund as well as contributions from Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and the Duchy of Cornwall.
Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport Peter Finney said at the launch: “This is the very first public bus service in the south of England that is operated in a sustainable way.
“I think it’s an excellent start for Dorset and everybody who has taken part in this project is to be commended.”
West Dorset District Council leader Robert Gould added: “It’s exciting to see something that is really at the cutting edge of technology.
“I’m delighted that even at this difficult time for the public sector we are still able to invest in these projects.”
Poundbury site manager for the Duchy of Cornwall Kevin Crabbe said the dedication of all those involved had helped make the pioneering project become a reality.
Dignitaries at the launch were joined by children from Damers First School in Dorchester and local residents who have been taking advantage of the new service.
Margaret and Dave Whitton, from Poundbury, enjoyed a ride on the bus on the first morning. Mrs Whitton said: “It saves on fuel.”
THE two electric buses have 56 batteries that take between six to eight hours to fully charge.
They are charged overnight at a depot just outside Dorchester using power from the Duchy of Cornwall’s anaerobic digester.
A fully charged bus can cover about 75 miles before it needs to be recharged, so one bus carried out the morning service before they swap over and the other does the afternoon.
Depot manager Kevin Clark said as well as being silent and environmentally friendly the new electric buses, which have been developed by British firm Optare, actually offered improved performance.
He said: “The performance is actually better, pulling away is quicker and the breaking is better.”