Protestors have taken Google to task for their abuse of San Francisco’s public transit system, and the company’s response–rent a luxury yacht for its commuters–didn’t rub anyone the right way. A greener public transit option is on display in Milton Keynes, a town 45 miles north of London, which will see a fleet of eight electric buses making the rounds starting January 19th. The U.K.’s quiet and environmentally conscious buses will drive along a 15-mile route that carries an estimated 800,000 passengers a year.
The Wrightbus vehicles run on a battery that is cable-charged overnight in a depot, but the real innovation lies in its ability to wirelessly charge the battery throughout its journey. Consequently, the commuter buses will never have to deal with delays in transit, at least not due to the need for recharging the battery. So you will be supporting green, efficient public transport–no need to feel shameful about those detrimental carbon emissions.
It will be charged as the bus hovers over a charging plate, replenishing two-thirds of the energy consumed by the vehicle in a mere 10 minute–long enough for the conductor to take a break. The plates, which are built into the road, have been placed at either end of the route.
Through inductive charging, “electricity passes through wire coils in the road plates, generating a magnetic field. This field induces a voltage across coils in the bus plates and the vehicle’s batteries are charged,” according to the BBC.
Electric vehicles have long been plagued by criticism due to a lack of efficiency (they typically can only drive 100 miles before needing a charge), and a dearth of infrastructure (there are currently not enough charging stations to accommodate them). Wrightbus’s buses appear to resolve that issue by relying on the built-in infrastructure of the charging plates. They are supposed to be able to do everything a diesel-run bus can do, which is easier without having to stop to recharge.
Milton Keynes isn’t the only city experimenting with electric buses. The city of Gumi, South Korea, began testing electric buses that wirelessly recharged in motion last year. Similar programs have been running in Genoa and Turin, Italy for a few years now.