Over the weekend the UK Department for Transport (DfT) announced that millions of people across the country will be able to make greener, cleaner journeys as almost 1,000 green buses are rolled out with the backing of nearly £200 million in government funding.
In England, 12 areas, including Blackpool, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Oxfordshire, South Yorkshire, West Midlands, West Yorkshire and York, will receive grants from the multimillion-pound package. This will be to deliver electric or hydrogen powered buses, as well as charging or fuelling infrastructure, to their region.
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.
This £198.3 million funding announced over the weekend will provide 943 buses. This builds on the £71 million announced last year to support up to 335 new zero emission buses in five areas, a further £50 million funding for the UK’s first All Electric Bus City, Coventry, supporting up to 300 buses and 100 buses funded by previous funding schemes.
Hundreds more zero emission buses have also been funded in London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means the government remains on track to deliver its commitment to fund a total of 4,000 zero-emission buses across the country.
Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said: “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.”
The move is expected to remove over 57,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from the country’s air, as well as 22 tonnes of nitrogen oxides on average each year, as the government continues to go further and faster to achieve net zero, clean up the transport network and build back greener.
It is also part of the government’s wider £3 billion National Bus Strategy to significantly improve bus services, with new priority lanes, lower and simpler fares, more integrated ticketing and higher frequencies.
Jobs in the bus manufacturing industry – based largely in Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England – will also be supported as a result of the move. Zero-emission buses are also cheaper to run, improving the economics for bus operators, as well as cleaning up many towns and cities across the country.
Baroness Vere, Transport Minister, said: “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.”
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach chief executive, said: “We welcome today’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.
“Stagecoach has already started its journey towards our target of a fully zero emission UK bus fleet by 2035, and there is also a major opportunity to deliver cleaner air by people switching to more sustainable public transport, cycling and walking.
“Britain’s buses have an exciting future ahead, helping decarbonise the country, as well as driving economic recovery and levelling up our communities.”
Government funding of Transport for London (TfL) has supported the introduction of 300 zero emission buses in London. Around 600 zero emission buses have been funded in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the block grant to the devolved administrations.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Greater funding for zero emission buses will be massively welcomed as the sector has had a torrid time because of the pandemic. With plummeting passenger numbers, cash strapped operators have been unable to fund new vehicles, stalling fleet renewal.
“New zero emission buses will help entice more passengers back on board, and help address environmental concerns, especially in our towns and cities, while giving a boost to British automotive manufacturing.”