On board £500k electric buses aiming to clean up Norwich air once called 'too dangerous to breathe'

  • ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward took a ride on one of the new buses

A new fleet of electric buses have been rolled out in a city centre in a bid to improve the quality of air once deemed "too dangerous to breathe".

Seven zero-emission vehicles went into service for the first time in Norwich on Monday, with another 63 due to hit the city's streets in the coming months.

The company First Bus said it was replacing its existing fleet of 70 diesel buses at its Roundtree Way depot, having invested £37m in the scheme.

The firm was given £14.7m by the Department for Transport to help fund the transformation which will result in more than half of its buses in the city being fully electric by March next year.

Piers Marlow, managing director of First East of England. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"Each vehicle should save over 75 tonnes of CO2 in a given year, so with a fleet of 70, that's a very big number and it will have a significant impact," Piers Marlow, managing director of First East of England, told ITV News Anglia.

"We have several schemes that are going in across the country at the moment and we intend to be zero carbon emissions across our group by 2035."

Mr Marlow also added that passengers would benefit from quieter, and smoother journeys.

The company has bought 59 new double deckers, each costing just under £500,000 each, and 11 single deckers, which cost just over £350,000 each.

Inside one of the new buses. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The buses have a range of up to 200 miles per charge, and take around 2.5 hours to reach full battery capacity.

Transport bosses are hopeful the new vehicles will help reduce pollution levels in the city centre - especially in the Castle Meadow area where the air was once deemed "too dangerous to breathe" by the World Health Organisation.

"This means that we'll have less pollution in the busiest streets in Norwich," said Norfolk county councillor Lana Hempsall.

"Hopefully we'll find that over time, as more of these buses are in introduced, that actually the environment in Norwich, not just the centre, but everywhere else, becomes much quieter, much cleaner, and just a nicer place to live."

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