Driving electric forward

Tim Thornton, Key Accounts Director

The challenges that have faced the bus industry since the start of the pandemic cannot be underestimated. Several operators parked up entire fleets, and even Transport for London (TFL) experienced just 10% of its regular passenger numbers in 2020.

Fortunately, with restrictions lifting and many more people returning to offices, passenger figures are now up to around 60%. However, it is unlikely they will reach original levels for some time – if ever.

Yet the industry remains stoic and is working hard to rebuild. What it lacks in volumes, it is making up for in future planning. And when it comes to alternative fuels, the bus sector is simply miles ahead of the rest.

As someone who has been in the sector for over 20 years, I’m impressed at how swiftly we’ve moved from diesel to hybrid and now to electric, demonstrating incredible reductions in carbon emissions. In London alone, TFL is now running 550 zero emission buses in its fleet with over 250 additional electric buses due to be delivered in the next six months and many other cities are making strides in introducing electric options.

Of course, government and local councils and authorities are big drivers for this change and legislation around clean air zones has accelerated activity and will continue to do so.

TFL has now declared its entire fleet of 9,000 buses will be emission free by 2037, while the Mayor of London is asking for change as soon as 2030. That would involve more than doubling annual bus replacement numbers which currently sit at around 400 every 12 months.

However, going electric comes at a cost.

Electric buses are still around double the price of diesel buses, which is why the government has stepped in with support in the form of grants for operators for both vehicles and infrastructure. Infrastructure is also a challenge – getting power into many bus depots is no mean feat.

At Asset Alliance Group we are supporting businesses across the country in making the switch, tailoring exactly the right mix of finance options for fleets from our large network of finance providers or through our own Group funds.

We pride ourselves on our expertise, understanding of the sector and our flexibility.

And we’re confident we can save customers their two most important assets… time and money!