First Glimpse of Universal Route’s New Zero-Emission Buses For Cambridge



The West Cambridge site was given a preview of the new zero-emission bus fleet that will carry passengers on the city’s Universal service from next summer.


These new zero-emission vehicles are part of a wide programme of work the University is undertaking to achieve outstanding environmental sustainability.

Professor Ian Leslie, Senior Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor

Nine Sigma 12 battery electric buses will run on an extended route commencing at Girton College and then linking Eddington with West Cambridge, the city centre, the train station and onwards to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, after the University – which subsidises the Universal buses – agreed to electrify the service from July 2023 as part of its commitment to sustainability.

Route U, ‘the University bus for everyone’, carries around 16,000 people per week, including staff, students and members of the public.

Bus company Whippet, part of the Ascendal Group, will operate the new electric service. This week they hosted a public event at the West Hub, JJ Thomson Avenue, where one of the fully electric Sigma vehicles was on display – albeit the shorter Sigma 10 model. After hearing about some of the features of the buses – the first of their kind to be used in the UK – attendees were given the opportunity to travel on one of the vehicles.

Professor Ian Leslie, Senior Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor with special responsibility for Environmental Sustainability, said: “Cambridge is an institution which prides itself on innovation, and has an appreciation of innovation that can help address the biggest issues facing society.

“We are committed to reducing our carbon emissions across all scopes, and the introduction of these new zero-emission vehicles is part of a wide programme of work the University is undertaking to achieve outstanding environmental sustainability. It will be a big day when the newly electrified Universal fleet rolls out into service next July.”

Jonathan Ziebart, Group Business Development Director at Ascendal, said: “We remain incredibly excited to be the University of Cambridge’s partner in introducing its first zero-emission bus network, operating along the world’s longest guided busway.”

The new Universal contract will provide a ‘split service’, with half of the buses serving Girton College at the northern end of the route, and half routed along Grange Road and into Barton Road and Newnham Road to better serve Wolfson College, with some buses returning to Hills Road to connect with Homerton College and the Faculty of Education.

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