First Bus x Wrightbus ZEBRA

Over £18million investment sees First Bus order 44 new electric buses for York

  • Total investment of £18.4m by First Bus and Government funding secured by City of York Council
  • 24 single-decker and 20 double-decker buses
  • Buses will save nearly 2,700 tonnes of CO2 every year
  • First vehicles expected to arrive in 2023  
  • UK-built buses will secure green jobs in the UK
  • Largest ever UK EV bus order outside of London

First Bus has placed an order for 44 Electric Vehicle (EV) buses with UK manufacturer Wrightbus, using the funding secured by City of York Council (CYC) from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding scheme.

Earlier in 2022 City of York Council were successful in securing the second largest funding allocation in the country from the DfT to deliver new electric buses.

First Bus are now investing £10.2m in the new vehicles, with a further £8.4m from the DfT grant used to complete the electric fleet project.

The project will be completed over the course of the next two years. York will receive 24 single deck GB Kite Electroliners and 20 Double Deck StreetDecks. This will more than double the number of electric buses in use in the York area, helping to improve air quality by reducing diesel exhaust emissions.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Transport at City of York Council, said:

“We welcome the announcement of this order of 44 electric vehicle (EV) buses as part of the largest EV bus purchase outside of London.

“These buses represent a great step towards providing clean, zero emission public transport across the city. This is fundamental to achieving the city’s carbon reduction goals, and clean air policy This significant investment will encourage greater use of the bus network, providing safe, convenient and sustainable bus services to residents, commuters and visitors.”

The predicted CO2 savings from the new buses are almost 2,700 tonnes a year. This will add to the current annual reduction of 1,600 tonnes achieved by the zero-emission Park and Ride fleet to bring total carbon savings to 4,300 tonnes a year.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for the Environment at City of York Council, added: “Here in York, we have already gone to great lengths to promote sustainable travel and hold bold ambitions for reducing carbon and taking steps to tackle climate change. In partnership with First York, we already have introduced 21 double-decker electric buses on the Park and Ride fleet, and 12 original single deck vehicles, saving thousands of tonnes of CO2 in the city.

“This significant investment will go a long way in helping us reduce York’s carbon footprint and improve air quality across the city.”

Ian Humphreys, Managing Director of First York, said: “This multi-million pound order is further evidence of our commitment to net-zero carbon transport and sets us on a clear path to full electrification of our bus fleet in York.

“It builds on our shared ambition with City of York Council to significantly reduce carbon and other particulate emissions and create cleaner air in the city.

“The models we have selected will enhance the journey experience for customers and we look forward to the first vehicles operating on the network next year.”

The new EV buses will be fully built in Northern Ireland at the Wrightbus facility in Ballymena in a significant boost for the UK economy and the manufacturing sector.

Ben Werth, Chief Commercial Officer at Wrightbus, said: "We are delighted to once again be partnering with First Bus in the drive to zero-emission public transport. First Bus, like us, is consistently on the forefront of new and exciting technology and at the forefront of zero- and low-emission travel.

“All of the buses - the GB Kite Electroliner BEV and the StreetDeck Electroliner BEV, which is the world's most efficient double decker battery-electric bus - will be manufactured and assembled at our Ballymena factory, which means support for jobs in NI, and wider across the UK through our domestic supply chain.”

The order is part of the largest EV bus purchase outside of London and will see a total of 193 new zero-emission buses being rolled out by First Bus across England from March 2023.

Picture caption: Examples of the Wrightbus vehicles ordered by First Bus.



Notes to editors


About First Bus

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks.

We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland.

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.

About Wrightbus

Wrightbus, based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, builds the world’s lightest bus chassis and has developed the world’s first double-decker hydrogen bus. Owned by Jo Bamford, who bought the business in 2019, Wrightbus is at the vanguard of the zero-emission bus movement. The first hydrogen buses are in operation in Aberdeen and London, with more local authorities looking to introduce them to their fleet over the coming years. 

Useful Electric bus facts: 

  • Wrightbus’ StreetDeck Electroliner BEV is the world’s most efficient double deck electric bus, following assessments undertaken at the UTAC test facility using the Zemo-accredited Ultra Low Emission Bus (ULEB) test. According to ULEB calculations, the Electroliner also produces 86% less CO2per km than the Zemo Euro VI diesel baseline. The StreetDeck and GB Kite share the same electrical architecture with high component commonality, reducing depot parts inventories and costs.
  • Zero emission: Both the GB Kite Electroliner BEVs and the StreetDeck Electroliner BEV release zero emissions, meaning improved air quality in cities.
  • Fast charging times: Both buses have best in class rapid charging times of just 2.5 hours. The GB Kite can travel up to 250 miles on full charging, while the StreetDeck Electroliner travels up to 200 miles on full charge.
  • UK-made buses: Both models are proudly made in Northern Ireland and this order will create manufacturing jobs well in to 2024. The Wrightbus Electroliner buses contain 98% UK/EU sourced components and suppliers in 47 counties are involved.
  • Healthier communities: These zero-emission buses support community members’ personal wellbeing and release no exhaust pollutants that can harm respiratory and cardiovascular health.
  • Combatting climate change: These clean buses will play a major role in reducing First Bus’ tail pipe emissions and overall Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. By replacing diesel buses, with this zero emission bus order, it will save approx. 11,745 tonnes CO2e tailpipe emissions per annum (193 vehicles) - that is the equivalent of the carbon emissions from 5,555 diesel cars currently on our roads.

Technical info:

  • 20 StreetDeck Electroliner double decker buses, 454kWh spec. Electroliner ER (Extended Range) with 88 seat capacity*
  • 173 GB Kite Electroliner single deck buses, 340kWh spec. Electroliner SR (Standard Range) (167 are 11.6meter with 85 person capacity* and 6 are 10.9meter with 82 person capacity*.
  • *Can vary depending on operator’s configuration

Media enquiries please contact:

 First Bus: 

Richard Harrison, PR Manager for North of England or 07973 668116

City of York Council

Newsdesk / Out of hours: 01904 555515


Naomi Penrose, Wrightbus Account Manager at Nathan Rous PR