RATP’s The Original Tour unveiled London’s first ever 100% electric hop-on hop-off open-top double-decker outside Westminster Abbey this morning, offering city-trippers a carbon-free carbon copy of the firm’s tours in a move welcomed by London’s deputy mayor for environment and energy.
Green in colour and concept, the 12m Unvi was revealed in front of the abbey before taking its first passengers across Parliament Square on a tour of the UK capital. From Saturday 13 October it will run on The Original Tour’s Yellow route, taking in sights and scenery from St Paul’s to The Shard and Shakespeare’s Globe to the Gherkin.
Deputy mayor for environment and energy Shirley Rodrigues says: “To help tackle the air pollution health crisis in London, we have taken bold action to green the bus fleet and cut toxic vehicle emissions, and it is fantastic that we now have the UK’s first fully electric sightseeing bus on the capital’s streets. With six months to go until the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London, electric vehicles are growing in popularity, and people are more aware than ever of the harmful pollution older buses and other vehicles can emit. I want to congratulate The Original Tour on the first of many brilliant green sightseeing buses.”
RATP Dev worked with four manufacturers in Europe – UNVI, Ziehl Abegg, BMZ and SAF – to design this double-decker, a left-hand-drive example of which was unveiled at Busworld in Kortrijk in October 2017 and launched into service in Paris in April.
Ronan Bois, sightseeing business unit director at RATP Dev, says: “Every day people rely on us to discover the best of the most iconic cities around the world and we’re investing in innovation for a new generation of sightseers. We’re proud to be the first sightseeing network to introduce a 100% electric bus in London, showing our commitment to our customers, the city and the community.”
The London vehicle, wrapped in a green version of the brand’s Union Jack livery, has a range of 150km – the equivalent of six loops of The Original Tour’s Yellow route. It will carry up to 75 passengers at a time, seven days a week, and on an average day will make 125 stops on a single charge. It will be charged overnight at the operator’s Grade II listed Wandsworth depot; it takes 4.5hr to fully charge the battery, after which the bus can run for up to 11.5hr.
Jane Lewis, managing director of The Original Tour, adds: “We’ve always been daringly original, creating memories that last a lifetime for people from all over the world. Today they are increasingly eco-conscious and we’re responding to exactly that. The Original Tour has been bringing the capital’s iconic sights to life for longer than anyone else but today we can point to a landmark of our own. This new 100% electric hop-on/hop-off open-top sightseeing bus represents the future not only for our brand but for sightseeing here in London.”
As part of its fleet renewal programme, The Original Tour will gradually convert its fleet to zero-emissions vehicles, with three more electric buses planned throughout 2019.