London’s fleet of electric buses has recently added a new technology that allows train-style pantographs to deliver rapid charges, allowing them to stay running longer. According to the bus company Go-Ahead, this is the first time this technology has been used in the UK.

The electric bus charging stations are not supporting buses along London’s Route I32. The rapid charging involves a metal arm-like device that descends to connect with a power receiver on the bus roof. This design differs from that of trains or old-fashioned trolly buses because the arm lowers down onto the bus as opposed to being attached to the roof of the bus and raising to connect to the power source. Known as “opportunity charging,” the high-power currents of up to 600 kW allow vehicles to be topped up in less than 10 minutes. Transport for London stated that a ten-minute charge from the pantograph arm increases a bus battery by 20%.

“We have a huge crisis – climate crisis, air quality crisis, public health crisis,” says Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor of London. “This is a huge step in the fight against those crises.”

Working toward the decarbonization goal of net zero by 2030, roughly 10% of London’s bus fleet is currently zero-emission following the introduction of both electric and hydrogen-powered buses. TFL expects the technology to be used on two routes in the capital by March 2023.

Additionally, on the 358 route, they are bringing 20 new electric tram buses that will be powered through frequent rapid charges at both ends of the Orpington to Crystal Palace journey. Two 450-kW pantograph chargers from Spanish outfit Irizar will be installed at either end of the 15-mile route. New 100-kW depot chargers will also support the operations with four-hour charges of long-range batteries.

“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 Deputy Mayor for Transport, Seb Dance. “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.”

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