Transport for London (TfL) has introduced rapid, wireless bus charging technology into a Bexleyheath bus garage to support the organisation’s transformation to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2034.
The charging technology uses a pantograph that attaches itself to the roof of the electric bus in order to provide quick, high-power charge to the vehicles. This service also includes wireless radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to allow the bus to communicate with the pantograph.
It marks the first time this technology has been used in London, with it set to power the all-electric route 132.
In 2017, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan unveiled ambitious plans for the city’s entire transport network to be zero emissions by 2050. The strategy indicated the first target was to cut as many as three million car journeys within London’s borders.
Optimising technologies to create an all-electric bus fleet could have a major impact on carbon reduction in the capital whilst also providing the necessary infrastructure to scale charging capabilities.
Via the new charging station, the buses, which are charged overnight, receive a high-power current through the pantograph multiple times throughout the day for a power boost – this is known as “opportunity charging”.
“Londoners deserve to breathe clean air, and as part of our work to tackle the twin dangers of toxic air pollution and the climate emergency, I’m pleased that this new technology is being used on buses in south London,” said Seb Dance, the deputy mayor of TfL.
“The introduction of the pantograph builds on the progress we have already made to run a cleaner and greener bus service. Transforming London’s bus fleet is an important part of the mayor’s target of getting London to net zero by 2030, and his aim to build a better London – a fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all.”
Over the coming year, a further expansion of opportunity charging will be conducted with pantographs located at each end of a bus route. This will be trialled in another first for London.
“The threats of toxic air, climate change and congestion are becoming clearer every day, and it’s vital that we find technical solutions that help us run clean, green services that get Londoners where they need to be,” said Louise Cheeseman, director of buses for TfL.
“When buses can travel further each day, as they do with this exciting pantograph technology, we can deliver the same service that Londoners rely on without increasing the number of buses and invest in other routes. The installation of the rapid pantograph charging for route 132 is a key step to help us get zero-emission buses running on routes all across London.”
Bus charging infrastructure is not the only upgrades that have been used in London to support decarbonisation on the capital’s roads. In September 2021, TfL opened a rapid charging hub for electric vehicles (EVs) in Woolwich.
The Glass Yard hub offers eight charging points for EVs, capable of charging vehicles in 20-30 minutes, meaning it is more likely space will be available at the site. It is the second of five rapid charging facilities being developed by the group across London, following a site at Stratford International.
London has around a third of the UK’s charging points, with more than 7,000 charging points within the M25. This increased by more than 2,000 over 2021, as well as TfL hitting its target of delivering 300 rapid charging points across the capital.