Alexander Dennis Limited has proposed a target for the UK to have at least 10,000 new low, ultra low and zero emission buses in service within the next four years, with the first of them going into service before the end of the year. ADL argues that this would help to maintain the benefits of lower pollution and better air quality that towns and cities have experienced during the coronavirus lockdown.
The new, ‘clean’ buses could remove ageing diesel vehicles or boost capacity to enable social distancing and while helping UK bus manufacturing firms and keeping investment in the country, it would also open up exporting opportunities for Global Britain, according to ADL chief executive Colin Robertson.
The coronavirus lockdown has seen traffic volumes diminished while people stayed at home to protect the NHS and save lives, with the added benefit of a significant improvement in air quality.
“There is strong public support for locking in these benefits through and beyond the post- coronavirus recovery to keep a healthier environment and continue the fight against climate change,” says Robertson. “Along with active travel and other modes of public transport, buses are a crucial part of the solution. As a society, we need to act immediately and deliver benefits as quickly as possible to minimise the deterioration of air quality when the economy restarts.”
Robertson proposes that at least 10,000 new UK-built low, ultra low and zero emission buses could be in service within the next four years; combining different available technologies results in a highly deliverable proposal with immediate benefits. ADL’s proposal highlights the potential for both battery electric and hydrogen buses, and the plans echo earlier comments by Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford about the potential for hydrogen in the UK.
“Hydrogen buses will play a role for routes requiring additional range and they will be ready when a fuelling infrastructure and a sustainable supply of green hydrogen have been put in place,” says Robertson.
“We are supportive of all cutting edge clean bus technologies and recognise that one size does not fit all, which is why we have developed a choice of solutions which meet cities and operators’ individual requirements and priorities.”
ADL points out that 10,000 buses over four years would represent a return to the levels of investment which had been seen until the impact of previous governments’ cuts were felt. And Robertson adds that UK bus manufacturers, including ADL, have the production capacity to meet this demand, and that further investment to speed up the decarbonisation of transport could create additional highly skilled jobs in a world-class industry.
“The UK Government’s earlier £5billion pledge for buses and cycling recognises the need to invest in active and sustainable models of travel,” says Robertson. “This is now more imperative than ever as the economy emerges from the impact of coronavirus.
“We urge the UK Government and devolved administrations to speed up the transition to cleaner transport by accelerating funding for zero emission buses and assuring health benefits from an immediate positive impact on air quality can be delivered by low and ultra low emission buses that could be in service before the end of this year.”