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.
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.
Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu.
Next blog: Sunday 6th February Harlow’s spring clean up.