Transport for London (TfL) has announced that pantographs are now being used to provide fast charging for the buses on the all-electric route 132.

These pantographs have been fitted at the Bexleyheath bus garage. Wireless RFID technology allows the pantograph and bus to communicate with each other. This allows the pantograph to attach to the roof of the bus to deliver a quick, high-power charge. This is the first time this pantograph technology has been used in the British capital.

Electric buses are generally charged overnight. Now, the buses operating on route 132 can receive a high-power current several times a day, a type of charging known as opportunity charging. Such a top-up takes less than ten minutes and allows buses to have an extended range before they need to return to their depot for a complete recharge. One outcome of this top-up charging is that fewer buses are needed to provide the same level of service.

TfL said that from next year, further opportunity charging will be trialled, with pantographs located at each end of a bus route. One of London’s longest bus routes is the 15-mile 358 between Crystal Palace and Orpington. A single charge at garage would not provide enough battery charge to allow a bus to operate on that route all day.

With pantographs at either end of this route, the buses can receive top-up charging throughout the day. The route will also be given new buses.

Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said:

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.

The introduction of the pantograph builds on the progress we have already made to run a cleaner, greener bus service.

In TfL’s Bus Action Plan, it commits to London having a fully electric bus fleet by 2034.

The pantographs were delivered by ABB and they were installed by EO Charging. EO Charging will also install the pantographs at the end of route 358.

GoAhead operates the buses on route 132. The BYD ADL partnership supplied the 18 BYD ADL Enviro400 EV double-decker buses on route 132.


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