Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has officially launched Ireland's first all-electric bus service in Athlone.
According to statement published on Gov.ie, the new service is operated by Ireland's national bus company, Bus Éireann and funded by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority (NTA), and is due to commence operations on 29 January.
The statement published on Gov.ie quoted Minister Ryan as saying, "The launch of these new electric town buses and the electrification of the Athlone depot is important on a number of fronts. It’s important because it will give Athlone town a new, quieter, cleaner bus service. It's important because it's the first of our 35 Pathfinder Projects to be delivered, just months after we first launched the programme last Autumn. And it’s important because it’s a sign of exciting things to come.
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"Driven by our new Climate Action Plan 2023, the future of Irish transport is on the cusp of radical change for the better. And that radical change will be driven by electricity - electric buses, electric cars, electric trains, powered for the most part by our own home-grown, cheaper renewable energy in the future.
"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. In 2022, we connected 67 new towns with buses and that number will continue to climb. I would like to commend Bus Eireann and the National Transport Authority for all the work they are doing across the country, and I look forward to many more bus services and depots going electric over the coming years."
The statement published on Gov.ie quoted NTA CEO Anne Graham as saying, "The launch of these electric buses today represents a very significant milestone on the journey to a zero-emissions fleet for our town and city bus services.
"From today the people of Athlone will benefit from buses that are cleaner, quieter, more comfortable and more attractive.
"Athlone will be the first service in Ireland to be delivered entirely by electric buses, and we should not underestimate the significance of that for this town and for public transport in general.
"The experience we gain here with our colleagues in Bus Éireann will doubtless stand us in good stead as NTA rolls out similar programmes in Dublin and in other cities and towns in the months and years ahead."
The statement published on Gov.ie quoted Bus Éireann CEO Stephen Kent as saying, "We're delighted to see the launch of Ireland's first all-electric town bus service in Athlone today, demonstrating the commitment and ambition of the government, NTA and Bus Éireann to deliver transformative sustainable public transport services across the country.
"This new fleet in Athlone is a particularly welcome development for Bus Éireann as we continue on our journey to become one of the most sustainable national transport companies in Europe. The operational experience will be invaluable as we expand electric vehicles to other urban services.
"We are excited to be operating the fleet, which will deliver a more modern, sustainable and comfortable service and provide an enhanced customer experience for passengers. A smoother and quieter ride is welcome as is improved access for persons with reduced mobility.
"The all-electric Athlone service will help us to make real progress towards the ambitious goals we set out in our 'Driving Change Sustainability Strategy, 2021-2030' to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and to have half of our urban bus fleet transition to low and zero emission vehicles by the same time."
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