The State’s first all-electric town bus service has been launched in Athlone by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
The Green Party leader said transport in the State was “on the cusp of radical change for the better” which would be driven by electric buses, cars and trains. These vehicles would in future, he said, be powered by “our own home-grown, cheaper renewable energy”.
“I’m also delighted that this change is starting in Athlone because the other big difference afoot is the upscaling in rural transport that is happening,” Mr Ryan said. “In 2022, we connected 67 new towns with buses and that number will continue to climb.”
Work on the project, involving a €10 million investment by the National Transport Authority, began last year. It has involved 11 new buses being purchased for the midlands town and the installation of charging infrastructure at Bus Éireann’s Station Road depot, which is being powered by a new electricity substation on the site.
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The Department of Transport said about 10,000 passengers use Athlone’s town bus service weekly, a 20 per cent increase since 2019. The all-electric service will come into operation from January 29th.
Mr Ryan said Athlone was getting a “quieter, cleaner bus service” and this was the first of 35 projects from the Pathfinder Programme due to be delivered over the coming years. The programme is seeking to support the Government’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by 50 per cent by 2030.
Bus Éireann chief executive Stephen Kent said it was “a landmark day for public transport” and the initiative in Athlone was part of plans for transport to become “more sustainable for the future”.
“A smoother and quieter ride is welcome as is improved access for persons with reduced mobility,” Mr Kent added. “We will learn as much as we can for similar developments in cities such as Limerick and Galway.”