£58m ScotZEB phase 2 expands eligibility to coaches

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Alexander Dennis President & Managing Director, Paul Davies (2nd from left) and Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart (centre) with Alexander Dennis apprentices Matthew Calderwood, Ben Malcolm and Luke Przybylinski, who are about to embark on support function roles for the next generation of Alexander Dennis electric vehicles, which will be built in Larbert. They are all completing a Higher National Diploma in Electrical Engineering at Forth Valley College. ALEXANDER DENNIS

For the first time, the Scottish Government has included coaches in its Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund, as it enters its second phase

The Scottish Government has launched the second phase of the Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund (ScotZEB), with up to £58 million available to operators. Introduced in 2021, ScotZEB replaced previous funding streams as a means to encourage the bus industry to find new and innovative ways to finance zero-emission buses and infrastructure. The second phase expands eligibility to coaches and community transport providers, to accelerate the transition to net zero.

The first phase of ScotZEB delivered 276 zero-emission buses, bringing the total number in Scotland to nearly 600. By asking operators, financiers, manufacturers and others to work together, the second phase of ScotZEB is seeking to rapidly accelerate the adoption of new energy buses and coaches.

Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart said: “The Scottish Government has already invested £113 million towards 548 zero-emission buses and supporting infrastructure, and I’m really pleased to now be making a further £58 million available. Launching the second phase of the ScotZEB Challenge Fund honours this Government’s pledge to drive forward a fully decarbonised future for Scotland’s buses; supporting operators of all sizes, including community transport, school bus and coach operators to transform their vehicles to zero-emissions and install infrastructure which can be shared with other fleets to help them make the switch too.

“We all have a part to play in tackling the global climate emergency. Bus is currently one of the most climate friendly transport choices the public can make, and I want to keep it that way for communities across all of Scotland.

“I will continue to challenge the bus and finance sectors to deliver excellence for Scotland and by launching ScotZEB 2, I hope to see truly transformational, collaborative change in the bus market towards a zero-emission future.”

The Minister launched ScotZEB 2 during a visit to Alexander Dennis’ Larbert factory. Alexander Dennis President and Managing Director Paul Davies said: “We are delighted to host the Scottish Government’s launch of ScotZEB 2 right here in our Larbert facility, which we are currently upgrading to make it a manufacturing centre of excellence for our zero-emission buses.

“As a proud member of the Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce, we have stepped up to the mark and delivered on the ask to create a small electric bus with our Enviro100EV. We are committed to supporting the just transition of decarbonising transport and funding from ScotZEB will be a welcome support for the jobs the industry offers in our communities as it benefits us and other Scottish suppliers.”

Director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport in Scotland Paul White said: “Bus plays a pivotal role in meeting net zero targets. It is sustainable, flexible, accessible and as the fleet further transitions to zero-emissions, its green credentials only grow. This further round of ScotZEB will help support operator investment in Scotland, which is already leading the charge to Net Zero across the UK.

“We welcome the scheme and, in particular, its inclusion of coach, which plays a crucial role for many residents and visitors and supports our ‘green tourism’ ambitions.”

David Kelly, Director for Scotland at the Community Transport Association said: “The launch of Phase 2 of ScotZEB is a positive step forward in the community transport sector’s transition to zero-emission fleets and in Scotland’s Just Transition. We hope this vital funding will build on the success of the Plugged-In Communities Grant Fund to close the net zero funding gap faced by local charities, community groups and social enterprises delivering accessible transport solutions across the country.

“We welcome the changes to Phase 2 which will require consortia to include smaller and non-profit operators and lead to greater investment in community transport. Our members look forward to closer collaboration with partners across the bus sector to ensure no community is left behind in our journey to net zero.”

The second round of ScotZEB funding is also available to coach operators. JONATHAN WELCH