UK government announces extra £25 million investment in electric buses

The UK government has announced a £25.3 million investment in electric buses for the people of Yorkshire, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampshire. This investment will see an extra 117 buses rolled out so the people in these locations can enjoy greener, cleaner journeys 

The latest investment announced today will support British manufacturing around the country. The new buses will be manufactured in Northern Ireland by Wrightbus and operated by First Bus. This will also support hundreds of new high-skilled jobs to help level up and grow the economy.  

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The £25.3 million will pave the way for the government’s ambitious rollout of zero emission buses (ZEBs) and brings total government funding to almost £300 million for up to 1,395 zero emission buses in England. With this new additional funding, it takes the vision of a net zero transport network one step closer to reality.  

The funding is an additional investment from the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme. This was launched in 2021 to allow local transport authorities to bid for funding for zero emission buses and supporting infrastructure. Thanks to the new investment the councils are now able to purchase more zero emission buses, including:  

  • Norfolk County Council will receive an extra £11.5m to deliver 55 additional ZEBs.
  • Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council will receive an extra £6.2m to deliver 28 additional ZEBs. 
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority will receive an extra £5.7m to deliver 25 additional ZEBs
  • City of York Council will receive an extra £1.9m to deliver 9 additional ZEBs.

Richard Holden, Minister for Roads and Local Transport, said: “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and these new British-built zero emission buses will support hundreds of high-quality manufacturing jobs in Northern Ireland, grow our economy and help clean up the air in towns and cities across the country.  

“We’re providing an additional £25.3 million to roll out 117 new buses to provide residents in Yorkshire, Norfolk, and Portsmouth with better, cleaner and quieter journeys, as we step up a gear to reach net zero faster and level up transport across the country.” 

Zero-emission buses are also often cheaper to run and require less maintenance, improving the economics for bus operators. All these additional buses funded through the ZEBRA scheme are battery electric. 

Janette Bell, First Bus managing director, said: “We are delighted to be accelerating investment in the electrification of our bus fleet and infrastructure, supported by co-funding from the Department for Transport.

“As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the Government’s ambitions for a net-zero carbon transport system. We are rapidly transforming our business with zero emission bus fleets and will continue to work closely with central and local government across the UK to deliver our decarbonisation plans.” 

The move is 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. 

Back in September 2022, First Bus also placed an £81 million order, one of the UK’s largest ever electric vehicle (EV) bus orders, with Wrightbus. This too was part of the ZEBRA scheme and the order for 193 buses was the largest UK electric bus purchase outside of London. These buses, for Leicester, York, Leeds, Norwich and Portsmouth, are expected to be rolled out in March 2023. 

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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