THE times are changing for bus travel in Newport when the first of 15 zero emission electric buses - the first in Wales - goes into service on Thursday.

And I was invited along for the inaugural ride through the city, joining Newport City Council leader Cllr Debbie Wilcox, Newport Transport managing director Scott Pearson, Newport Transport chairman Cllr Jane Mudd and Bus Users Cymru director Barclay Davies on the invite-only special service highlighting the 'green future' of the city's buses.

It was all aboard the Yutong E12 for this special experience at the Newport Transport depot in Corporation Road - and then we hit the streets.

First impressions? The bus was incredibly quiet and very smooth. Gone were the judders and shakes of a diesel bus as it sat at the traffic lights at Clarence Place; gone was the noise of the engine revs as it idled and then pulled away.

In fact, it was so quiet on board the driver told us he was now able to hear conversations from the very back of the bus - so if you're on it after Thursday, you may want to think twice about what you're talking about!

And that goes both ways - Scott Pearson explained that the drivers keep in contact with each other via radio throughout the day and those conversations will also be heard more clearly on the quiet new buses.


I wasn't sure what to expect from the performance of the vehicle - but it certainly didn't lack anything. We whizzed along - or glided as that was what it felt like - with the traffic with what seemed like no effort at all.

The drivers of these new buses will undergo some training as they are different to drive from their diesel equivalents - no gears, no clutch, no need to floor the accelerator when you're going up a hill... and gentle braking when pulling up to a bus stop or traffic lights helps keep the battery charged for longer.

And what about that battery? Will it run out mid-journey? No is the answer to that one. Each night the bus will be charged back at the depot - it will take about four hours to charge from empty to full but at no time will the bus be out on the road with less than 20 per cent battery power. And a full day of running the Bettws route would not see the battery depleted to anything like 20 per cent.

All in all, it was a great experience - seats were comfy, plenty of space and USB ports galore throughout the bus.

The other 14 will be in service after then end of February and then Newport Transport's green credentials will be well and truly on the map showing what can be done in Newport and Wales.