Cardiff’s powerful electriCity buses

Saturday 5th February 2022

Cardiff Bus publicly launched its fleet of 36 Yutong E12 EV buses in the middle of last month. They looked very smart and inviting from the photographs on social media so I popped over to the Welsh capital on Wednesday to give them the once over.

They’re being used on three of Cardiff’s busiest and frequent routes: route 27 to Thornhill, in the north of the city; routes 44/45 to St Mellons in the east and routes 49/50 to Llanrumney in the north east as well as half hourly routes 28/28A which also end up in Thornhill via a more circuitous route.

The Chinese manufactured buses have been given the Best Impressions livery and branding treatment which includes bright colour coded front halves for each route group.

Route 27 is green with a fleet standard orange coloured rear.

Routes 44/45 are dark purple with the orange rear.

Routes 49/50 are a kind of lilac and again with the orange rear.

While routes 28/28A use a generic electric liveried buses in the orange and black new standard livery.

They all look very smart and eye catching.

There’s one bus travelling around (fleet number 436) that’s in a red and cream heritage livery with a nod to the upcoming 120th anniversary of Cardiff Bus this year.

On board the buses the seats are in a shade of patterned turquoise with bright orange head rests (which I hope won’t show up the dirt too much) …

… and are averagely comfortable for a shortish urban based journey offering good leg room.

The E12 version of these buses allows more room for passengers than the shorter E10 which some operators have favoured.

There’s a wide (what I call a) “seat for one” facing forward either side of the aisle as you board back to back with a similar sized seat facing the rear over the front wheels.

I’m not sure if these are officially designed for two – it looks like they are as they come with a dual USB socket at the side, but in practice most passengers sit in the middle and use them as a single seat.

On the nearside there’s a space for a wheelchair and two tip up seats ….

… with three tip up seats and a buggy space on the offside.

There’s then two pairs of double seats on the flat, making eight level access seats (aside from the tip-ups) which is not bad going for fully accessible seats these days.

There are then five rows of double seats either side of the gangway which gradually rise in height until you get to the ‘royal circle’ at the rear after negotiating the two/three step arrangement reach them.

There’s an extra seat in the ‘middle five’ at the very back.

There are natty small sized opening windows on the offside with full length openers on the nearside.

USB sockets are in the back of the head rests in the standard seats.

There’s a colour coded screen showing the next stop which matches the route’s branding colour but only one of the four buses I travelled on had voice announcements, the other three being silent. I understand this is to do with software issues which should soon be resolved.

The announcements I did hear really were booming in volume especially when sitting close to the one speaker I noticed on the cove panel.

Only a few of the stop names were translated into Welsh, which in view of the sound volume was a blessing.

That intrusive noise aside the most noticeable thing was the quietness of the transmission and I’m pleased to say a completely rattle free ride on every bus I rode on which was very welcome indeed.

All the mid to late morning journeys I made on the 27, 44/45 and 49/50 were busy and the drivers gave a smooth and comfortable ride.

An interesting boarding arrangement across the cycle path!

One I spoke to was full of praise for the new buses which he said he’d been driving since November, which was impressive as I read they’d been delivered in December..

The cove panels include messages to make you aware of how ‘green’ you’re being travelling on these buses and for once these spaces weren’t over flowing with shouty messages or with copious small print (mind you there’s lots of grills preventing messages).

I’m surprised a nice coloured route map wasn’t depicted bearing in mind they’re route specific buses.

Notwithstanding Cardiff Bus is owned by Cardiff Council and comes under the purview of the Welsh Government it was the Department for Transport in London that provided funding for these buses from its Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. Bearing in mind this investment represents about a quarter of Cardiff’s fleet that’s not bad going.

Zenobé are involved in the project again as they are with others, providing finance and software for the charging infrastructure.

The launch publicity is noticeable by not including any details of how much the buses have cost or the DfT’s funding contribution which is odd as usually it’s customary to boast about so many £millions investment.

They’re smart to look at and they’re smart to ride in. It’s good to see such a large investment (how ever much it is) and while I’m not convinced electric buses in themselves attract any extra passengers, when presented in a smart and attractive way as these are, then there’s a good chance they’ll succeed in that objective.

Finally, updated news on TfL’s funding settlement finally came at 6pm last night, not from the DfT or TfL, but the BBC’s Transport Correspondent in London, Tom Edwards, that last night’s midnight deadline has been extended for another two weeks. What a way to run a Capital city’s public transport.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu.

Next blog: Sunday 6th February Harlow’s spring clean up.

23 thoughts on “Cardiff’s powerful electriCity buses

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  1. I haven’t ridden on these buses as I live in the wrong part of the city! But I’d just say that the seat colours are standard for Cardiff Bus (except for the Citaros recently purchased from Bus Vannin) and actually wear well. I’m surprised at the “booming” announcements, on other services they’re usually at a reasonable level.

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  2. Not sure the variety of disparate liveries binding vehicles to specific routes, however nice the vehicles themselves may be, is always operationally efficient. And certainly agree the “traditional” outshines them all. And surprised that busy city routes continue to be single-decked, which often results in over-crowding at times, something passengers seek to avoid after the last two years.

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    1. Cardiff does have about 20 deckers which seem to turn up at random on the 57/58 route (some are branded for this), on the Hospital and Saturday Park & Ride services and elsewhere. We are told that they will now serve the Ely and Caerau routes following withdrawal of the Bendy Buses last weekend. Deckers used to appear on the 44/45 and 49/50 routes but never to my knowledge on the 27 or 28B. The newest double-deckers are 65-plated E400MMCs – I don’t like them much!

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  3. In Europe (behind us in the field of equal treatment), the large single seats are known as “Big Mama” seats. This is not the official term, but it is very widely used!

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  4. Free Bus Travel

    Bus travel with in the Newport Borough will be free throughout March. The scheme is funded by the Welsh Assembly

    I am never convinced by these schemes. It tends to be the normal passengers who now just travel for free. It must be very expensive as well. It might be better to just cut the fares

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  5. TfL seem to be still not addressing its serious revenue shortfall. Crossrail opening could make things even worse

    Passenger numbers on both bus and train have fallen significantly and are unlikely to recover so they need to cut service to match demand. Given most services in London are high frequency there is plenty of scope to reduce services without having much impact on passengers

    The government is pressing TfL to reform its very expensive pension scheme and to implement driverless trains

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  6. I cannot see that the Free travel can be restricted to Newport transport when itr is being funded by the Welsh Assembly. It would be seen as anti completive

    The article bellowis interesting. Putting cycle and bus lanes on the A48 between Tredegar Park and St Mellons. That’s quote a narrow section of a very congested trunk road

    Not that many bus us that section of road. It is mainly the service 30 which is every 20 minutes

    Cannot see that many people wanting to cycle along it neither

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    1. I live very close to the A48 between Tredegar Park and St Mellons. It’s wide (4 lanes), hasn’t been a trunk road since the parallel M4 and A48(M) were built in the 1970s and is rarely congested.

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  7. Great British Railways Headquarters


    Not sure if Wales and Scotland are included as the railways are partially devolved

    As a part of the Levelling up London is EXCLUDED as as potential Headquarters. I assume as well that only cities and very large towns will be considered due to the number of staff needed which seems be about 5000

    Ministers have announced a public vote on where Great British Railways will be headquartered, with the winning bid in line to generate hundreds of new jobs for the local area.

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  8. Glad you witnessed Cardiff’s ridiculous bus stops with cycle lanes. Last October I was at the same stop your photo was taken at and I was amazed at cyclists ploughing through passengers attempting to board buses, no bells or horns not even verbal warnings. Maybe we need an update to the Highway Code?

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  9. The new electric buses also appear on the x45 route from Sports Village to the city centre ( on St Mellons when the timetable changes back). They are very comfortable and quiet and very bright and airy.

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  10. Yes (to William’s comment) – I note that a ‘zebra’ crossing of the cycle lane is thoughtfully provided; presumably the cyclists treat the black stripes as being for them, and the white stripes as kind of refuges for the bus passengers attempting to board. It may end up with mini traffic lights being needed, or even an arrangement like a level crossing, with barriers!

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  11. I think the Cyclist treat the waiting bus passengers for target practice. If you are standing on the black line you are safe if on the white lines you are a target

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  12. Problem is that these cycle lanes were hardly ‘designed’ at all, but put in place quickly during the early stages of the pandemic with little consultation. There was some outcry as this happened. Now Cardiff is putting in some better cycle lanes but it will take a long time!

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  13. Can’t say about A/C. As far as heating are concerned, Cardiff Bus at present are trying to keep all windows open at all times. But even in normal times they seem reluctant to turn the heating on!

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