BROOKESbuses to go electric and support Oxford’s net zero targets

The BrookesBus service
The BROOKESbus has transported approximately 23.5 million people since it was first introduced in 2009

As the world prepares to celebrate Earth Day this Saturday (22 April), Oxford’s ambitious Net Zero goals have been boosted with the announcement that all of the city’s BROOKESbuses will move to a fleet of new electric buses.

The announcement comes as Oxford Brookes University and Oxford Bus Company confirm their continued partnership in delivering a vital bus service for students, University staff, and the wider community.

The BROOKESbus was first introduced in 2009 and in the ten years to 2022 the service has transported approximately 23.5 million people. This has saved an estimated 1.5 million car journeys each year from Oxford’s busy roads and stopped around 15 million kg of carbon emissions. 

The 21 electric BROOKESbuses will further increase the sustainability credentials of the service and it is currently expected that the new fleet will be introduced by the end of 2023. 

Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director said: “Our partnership with Oxford Brookes University is based on strong shared sustainability and community values and we’re delighted to be entering our 15th year delivering crucial bus services to provide connectivity for its campuses and the wider community.

“Our partnership working with the University has achieved some excellent milestones in reducing private vehicle use and significantly improving Oxford’s air quality. Therefore, it is apt that the first delivery of 21 electric buses to go into service in the city will be on the BROOKESbus services to take us a step closer to Oxford becoming carbon-neutral.”

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, said: “The BROOKESbus service provides a crucial transport service for students, staff, local residents, and visitors to our fantastic city and county. We are pleased to have extended our partnership with Oxford Bus Company and I am delighted that the city’s first fleet of electric buses will be introduced for the BROOKESbus service. 

“Oxford Brookes has a strong commitment to sustainability and declared a Climate Emergency in 2021. We have a strategy in place to support Oxford’s ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040, ten years ahead of the legal deadline. This exciting development for the BROOKESbus service will play a key role in that important carbon reduction goal.”

Both Oxford Brookes University and Oxford Bus Company are members of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership which is committed to working with the Government to accelerate the adoption of clean and sustainable energy in Oxford and across the UK.

As part of the UK Government’s pledge to decarbonise transport, Oxfordshire County Council and its partners were successful in winning funding from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme to deliver an electric bus network. This will deliver a total of 159 electric buses operating within the Oxford region, which includes the BROOKESbus services. 

Bill Cotton, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Environment and Place, said: “This is a huge boost in the move towards creating a sustainable, decarbonised public transport system, and improving air quality. We believe that, along with other schemes proposed in the county, this new fleet of electric buses will transform our public transport system and encourage more people to travel by bus.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, Oxford City Council, said: “It is really good news that all BROOKESbus services will soon be electric. These services are used not just by Oxford Brookes students and staff, but also by local residents and workers getting to the John Radcliffe hospital, as well as by visitors who can catch them from the Park & Rides. Getting rid of diesel and petrol-fueled buses is an important part of tackling toxic air pollution in the city. The switch also helps reduce our carbon emissions. I am looking forward to seeing these buses on our roads as soon as possible.” 

The new contract between Oxford Brookes and Oxford Bus Company will see the continuation of the 100 (BROOKESbus U5) and the 400 (BROOKESbus U1) services, with the latter having merged with the Seacourt and Thornhill Park & Rides last year to further boost sustainable travel in Oxford.

As part of the new contract, the 100 (BROOKESbus U5) will continue to operate along the Cowley Road on weekends and weekday evenings. In response to feedback over the last year, the service will operate along the Cowley Road from earlier in the evening on weekdays. The BROOKESbus service has also increased the number of buses operating from 18 to 21 to further improve reliability for students, staff and members of the public. 

As part of the new contract there will also be improvements to the BROOKESbus app to further support the tracking of buses and the purchase of discounted tickets for travel outside of Oxford. Further information on the service will shortly be added to the dedicated BROOKESbus webpages.