London being left behind in the adoption of electric buses


Caroline Pidgeon calls for "a dedicated commitment to phasing in more electric single decker buses as existing single decker buses come to the end of their lifespan and new bus contracts come up."

A new report out today by the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon reveals:

  • Mayor of London has repeatedly made inaccurate and misleading statements in comparing the adoption of electric buses in London with other cities
  • London now lags behind a number of cities in its current adoption of electric buses
  • Every five weeks China deploys 9,500 electric buses onto its roads – matching the entire size of London’s current bus fleet
  • Mayor of London’s long-term plans for adoption of electric buses exposed as significantly less ambitious than many other cities
  • New policies are now needed to speed up the adoption of electric buses in the capital.

The report is based on a detailed examination of TfL’s current bus fleet and also an examination of numerous bus fleets in cities around the world.

The report highlights that even by the end of this year London will have just 240 purely electric buses, less than 2.6% of its overall bus fleet.

Examples of where London is lagging behind include Shenzhen, a modern metropolis linking Hong Kong to China’s mainland which has now electrified its entire bus fleet of 16,000 buses.

Other cities leading ahead of London include Santiago, the capital of Chile with a smaller population than greater London, which recently procured 200 electric buses, with ambitious plans to rapidly adopt more.   The Chilean President has declared Chile would become second only to China in the adoption of electric buses.

This year Delhi could become home to 1000 pure electric buses.

In Nepal the government has announced a decision to procure 300 pure electric buses for its capital of Kathmandu, a city with a population of just 1 million compared to London’s population of nearly nine million. 

Nearer to London, in December 2016, Eindhoven, a city in the south of the Netherlands, introduced a fleet of 43 pure electric buses –  but serving a population of just 227,000 people.

Caroline Pidgeon, commenting on the research findings said:

“Sadiq Khan has been caught out making some misleading and false claims about the adoption of electric buses in London.   For example, his quote that London will soon have the largest double decker electric bus fleet in Europe is misleading in the extreme – as Dublin is the only other city in western Europe to have any significant number of double decker buses. 

“Some really exciting things are happening in a number of countries across the world with the adoption of electric buses – in the Netherlands, South America, India and parts of China. But sadly London is in the slow lane in the adoption of purely electric buses. 

“The Mayor simply lacks ambition.  For example the whole of India is committed to an electric bus fleet by 2030, but the Mayor’s commitment is for 2035.

“Of course foolish mistakes were first made by Boris Johnson, when he took the decision to purchase the incredibly expensive New Routemasters, when instead he should have committed London to leading the world in the adoption of purely electric buses.

“However Sadiq Khan cannot just hide behind past mistakes and peddle false claims about the adoption of electric buses in the capital, especially when we learn more every day about the huge health impact of air pollution.

“As an immediate priority we need to fast track the procurement of pure electric single decker buses and quickly transform this significant part of London’s bus fleet.  The adoption of electric double decker buses also needs to be sped up.   

“The use of electric bendy buses is another option open to the Mayor to ensure London catches up with other cities.”

Read the full report here.

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