Tuesday 21 April 2020

Electric Environment Elixir (2)

Taking The Opportunity
A while back, fbb reported on the failure of electric buses to excite Denbigh County Council in North Wales. It appeared that the batteries were insufficiently "big" to maintain a charge all day. The long open spaces of the rural routes were simply more draining than pottering about on a town service.

Poppleton Park and Ride in York offered the "opportunity" to top up the overnight charge at the cat park site.
Nor far away, in Harrogate, the town services all went electric in one big push.
A chum from church had a few days away there soon after the new service started and was very impressed. A few commentators were amused to discover that the electricity came from as diesel generator ...
... and some locals were aghast at the three sets of charger pylons at the appropriate stands at the rather "genteel" bus station.
While the bus is enjoying its "layover" a little pantpgraph drops down from the pylon, makes contact with a, erm., contact on the roof and thus keeps the battery topped up all day./
Transdev Harrogate Buses are pleased, the locals like them and everybody is happy. Needless to say, Transdev won a substantial grant to set the whole thing up and, as Hamlet was wont to say, "aye there's the rub!"

Some of the extra infrastructure plus the extra cost of short run vehicle production means that pure commercial judgements do not favour such a system. AS one bus manager said publicly recently, "diesel will be the power of choice commercially for the immediately forseeable future."

What About Milton Keynes?
In 2014 Milton Keynes city route 7 went electric ...
... but it was the "opporunity charging" technology that excited the world at large.
A reminder of the new technology may be desirable for some of our readers who may be more interested in vehicles than voltage!

The bus arrives on stands; a sensor realises it is there and tells the bus to lower a grid to an inch or so above the charging plate. The sensor then tells the box of tricks to get charging and electricity flows through the pipes in the thingey in the road.


Readers will, of course, be familiar with a similar technology to recharge the now obligatory smartphone.

The vehicles were "opportunity charged" by induction at their terminus in Wolverton and in their bay at Bletchley bus station.

Hardly has the first volts been applied than the scheme was up for an award ...
... and more buses for route 4 were on their way.

More electric buses destined for MK

Monday 25 July 2016

Transport Minister, Andrew Jones MP announced today (25 July 2016) that Milton Keynes Council has been awarded £1.75m after a successful bid to bring 11 new electric buses to the city.

The new vehicles will be implemented over the next two years into a cross-city route which will be served entirely by electric buses bringing the total of electric buses operating on key routes across MK up to 25%.

The Council’s successful bid will build upon the success of Route 7 which already has eight electric buses running along it, charging up at Wolverton and Bletchley on the underground charging plates.

The award-winning electric bus scheme has been operating since 2014 and has shown that electric buses can operate efficiently on a busy bus route.

They never arrived!

When fbb visited, two buses of the eight on the route were out of action; fbb's electric bus wouldn't charge properly at Bletchley bus station and left 20 minutes late, passing another dead in the gutter in West Bletchley. fbb may have had a bad day, but Northampton correspondent Alan, a more frequent visitor, regularly reported a deficiency of electric vehicles on the road.

But never mind, eh? The local MP ...
... was boundlessly enthusiastic as recently as February 2020.
Equally excited was the local radio station that reported the Honourable Member's eloquent words of wisdom.
Sadly both MP and media had overlooked one small, but apposite point. The electric buses were WITHDRAWN without publicity, press release or ceremony sometime in late 2019, several months before young Iain's pronouncement and well before the enthusiasm of MKfm!


Electric buses are far from being a bed of environmentally effective roses - yet. fbb understands that the new double decks due soon on the streets of York come with some very tightly contracted guarantees, especially on the life and reliability of the batteries.

Of course the cleanliness of emission-free electricity will benefit air quality in our towns and cities; but we need to remember that the fossil-fulled power stations will still be throwing emissions into the atmosphere for many a year yet. Cleaner power generation is needed before electric vehicles offer a real answer to Greta Thunberg's prayers!

Meanwhile, Excitement From EBay
As readers will be well aware, once EBay gets its grasping fangs into a customer it will never let go. A few weeks back, almost every day, fbb was plagued with offers on bedside tables!

The latest technological craze is to remind fbb of this he has simply looked at (e.g in lockdwn mode, little tins of enamel paint) then more on to some offers fbb could barely refuse. Recent;y he was able to force himself to turn down an exciting offer on lady's sportswear - it simple several sizes too small for the chubby one!

But a weekend offer takes the proverbial biscuit.
fbb's first typewriter was bought at Sheffield University Students' Union bookshop in 1964 and was s "state of the art" Olivetti Lettera 22.
It served him well for many a long year and was eventually replaced by one like this.
No "golf ball", no LCD display; but simply an electrically powered "normal" typewriter. Unlike the aged Lettera 22 all of its letters printed on line and, unlike the manual bash of old, the letter arms did not clump together as a result of stubby fingered key bashing.

Sadly, and very much like the Olivetti, the wretched thing would never get all the spellings and the punctualtyion wright every time. fbb has the same trouble with the lap top!

As blog readers will know!

 Next Bits And Pieces Blog : Wednesday 22nd April 

1 comment:

  1. Andrew Kleissner21 April 2020 at 08:18

    Clearly electric buses provide a greater environmental benefit if the energy they use is derived from renewable sources rather than by the burning of fossil fuels - although even here the efficiency of generation in power stations may be better than the efficiency of a diesel bus. Two points which are often missed with electric vehicles are the need to upgrade the power supply infrastructure to charging points, and the difficulty of disposing of "dead" batteries which can contain significant amount of polluting materials.