The UK government says it is on track to reach its target of 4,000 zero emission buses with its latest package worth £200million which should fund almost 1,000 new buses.
Twelve areas in England will receive grants to deliver electric- or hydrogen-powered buses, as well as charging or fuelling infrastructure. The funding comes from the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which was launched last year to allow local transport authorities to bid for funding to purchase zero emission buses.
The government says that the new £198.3million of funding will provide 943 buses and means it remains on track to deliver its commitment to fund a total of 4,000 zero-emission buses across the country, as promised by the prime minister in 2020.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says: “I will level up and clean up our transport network. That’s why I’ve announced hundreds of millions of pounds to roll out zero emission buses nationwide.
“Not only will this improve the experience of passengers, but it will help support our mission to fund 4,000 of these cleaner buses, reach net zero emissions by 2050 and build back greener.
“Today’s announcement is part of our National Bus Strategy, which will introduce lower fares, helping drive down the cost of public transport even further for passengers.”
Transport minister Baroness Vere adds: “We recognise the scale of the challenge the world faces in reaching net zero. That’s why reducing emissions and creating green jobs lies at the heart of our transport agenda.
“Today’s multimillion-pound investment is an enormous step towards a cleaner future, helping ensure transport is fit for generations to come and allowing millions of people to get around in a way that is kinder to our environment.”
The government is also launching a public consultation seeking views on setting a specific date between 2025 and 2032 for ending the sale of new non-zero emission (at the tailpipe) buses. These proposals would mean that, from 2032 at the latest, the sale of all new buses, powered either in part, or totally, by an internal combustion engine would cease to be allowed.
Any new buses sold from that date would need to be fully zero-emission at the tail pipe and the end of sales would apply across the whole of the UK.
And on coaches, a call for evidence has been launched on ending the sale of new non-zero emission coaches and minibuses, and what an appropriate end of sales date might be.
The areas whose business cases were approved and will be receiving funding are:
First electric buses for Portsmouth
The funding will see the first electric buses on Portsmouth and Hampshire roads. Portsmouth city council has been awarded £6.5million for the funding of zero emissions buses as part of its partnership with First Solent and Hampshire county council. 34 new electric buses will replace the current diesel fleet to operate across Gosport, Fareham and Portsmouth.
Lynne Stagg, cabinet member for traffic and transportation, says: “I was so excited to hear our bid had been successful and we can start providing zero emissions buses in Portsmouth. This marks a significant milestone for our city in creating cleaner travel for all.”
Marc Reddy, managing director, First Solent, adds: “This is great news and we are delighted for Portsmouth City Council. We look forward to continuing to work with them and Hampshire County Council to bring zero emissions buses to Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport and to help achieve the city council’s net zero target.”
West Midlands to launch UK’s largest hydrogen bus fleet
A fleet of 124 new environmentally friendly hydrogen fuelled buses will be operating in the West Midlands following the approval of a £30million DfT grant. The successful ZEBRA bid will cover the cost of a refuelling facility as well as the new vehicles. Twenty four of these new vehicles will be articulated tram-style buses set to run on the new Sprint bus priority route along the A34 and A45 between Walsall, Birmingham and Solihull.
The West Midlands already has 20 hydrogen double-deck buses, bought by Birmingham City Council and operated by National Express West Midlands and with the new funding, the region will have 144 hydrogen buses.
Pete Bond, director of integrated transport services, TfWM, says: “Buses are the most used form of public transport in the region and this is welcome Government investment in our network. These hydrogen buses, the All Electric Bus City scheme in Coventry and the roll out of electric vehicle charging facilities we are planning shows how the West Midlands is leading the way on decarbonising our transport and making good progress on achieving our net-zero targets.”
Greater Manchester secures £36.9million to enhance green bus fleet
Greater Manchester is to receive £36.9million in funding to introduce 170 green buses to the region for its Bee Network in Stockport. The funding follows a joint bid to the DfT submitted by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Transport for Greater Manchester, Stockport Council and Stagecoach Group and will be topped up with £12.5million from GMCA to see new zero emission buses running in Stockport by 2024.
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, says: “This is a significant boost to our ambitions for a fairer, greener bus system. Zero emission buses play a critical part in our drive to help more people travel sustainably.”
Lee Wasnidge, managing director, Stagecoach Manchester, adds: “We welcome the Government’s announcement which will complement the significant investment and initiatives by operators as we work together to transition to a zero-emission bus fleet and help the country achieve its net zero ambitions”.
CPT calls for diesel coach sale end date to acknowledge sector challenges
CPT has welcomed the new funding and called for the new target end dates for the sale of fossil fuel-powered coaches to acknowledge the specific challenges in the sector.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome drive towards zero emission bus and coach fleets,” says CPT.
“It is important that any eventual targets for both bus and coach are realistic and recognise the unique and different challenges operators face regarding infrastructure, funding and technological development. Our zero emission coach taskforce has been looking at the challenges coach operators will face and its work will be crucial in informing today’s call for evidence.
“With bus and coach representing only 3% of transport emissions it is vital that we move journeys from cars to sustainable transport to stay on track for the country’s net zero goals. Therefore, it’s vital that today’s announcement is matched by the government loudly promoting bus and coach travel and ensuring it delivers on the ambitions of its National Bus Strategy to improve services across the country. This should start by ensuring buses are given priority for road space to make journeys quicker and more reliable to encourage sustainable travel choices.”
£8.4millon for more electric buses in York
City of York Council has been awarded more than £8.4million to support the purchase of 44 fully electric buses. The successful ZEBRA bid also brings significant investment in York from FirstGroup, with First pledging £10million towards the new buses, alongside the DfT’s £8million.
The new buses will be used on First’s routes 1, 4, 5, 6, the Hospital Shuttle Bus and Park and Ride route 2. After the fleet is delivered, York will have 77 electric buses in service, operating more than half the mileage in the city. This will reduce carbon emissions in York by 2,300 tonnes per year as well as reducing NOx and particulate emissions across the city, but especially within the city centre Clean Air Zone.
Andy D’Agorne, deputy leader and executive member for transport, City of York Council, says: “We are delighted to be successful in receiving over £8.4million in funding towards providing clean, zero emission public transport across the city. The city’s Bus Service Improvement Plan is also a key supporting policy underpinning the council’s new Local Transport Plan and I hope Government will announce funding for this shortly.”
Multi-million pound investment in 78 new electric buses for Nottingham City Transport
Following a successful £15million ZEBRA bid by Nottingham City Transport and Nottingham City Council, 78 new electric single-deck buses will be introduced. The new buses will see the full electrification of NCT’s single-deck bus fleet at its Trent Bridge Garage, replacing all of the existing single-deck fleet which serve 18 bus routes across the Greater Nottingham area.
David Astill, Nottingham City Transport managing director, says: “The electrification of our bus fleet is not a commercial proposition without this significant ZEBRA funding. This will now help us to progress our ambitious plans to become one of the UK’s first carbon neutral bus operators. Our thanks to Nottingham City Council, who played an important part in developing our successful bid.”