CBT calls for further support to meet eco bus fleet targets

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Campaign for Better Transport urges more action to deliver zero-emission bus goals and meet bus fleet decarbonisation ambitions

The Campaign for Better Transport is calling for more to be done to deliver a zero-emission bus fleet as figures reveal only a tiny proportion of buses on the road are currently electric. Of the 38,000 buses nationally, only 12% of the England’s fleet is hybrid and only 2% (4% in London and 1%t in the rest of England) zero-emission according to the latest figures.

The transport charity is warning that without further Government support, its ambition to deliver 4,000 zero-emission buses by 2025, as well as plans to clean up the rest of the 38,000 strong bus fleet, is likely to be missed.
It is calling for a number of measures to help speed up the transition to zero-emissions including more incentives for local authorities and a Government-led campaign to boost bus passenger numbers along with a long-term funding plan. It also wants local authorities to adopt more bus friendly policies.

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Buses are already one of the greenest forms of transport – contributing only 3% of the UK’s domestic transport emissions – and accelerating the roll-out of zero-emission buses will drive further improvements to air quality and carbon emissions in our towns, cities and rural areas. But it’s clear from our work with bus operators, local authorities, utility companies and others involved in providing bus services that we are not currently on target to deliver nearly enough zero-emission buses anywhere near fast enough. The Government must step in to offer more support to the industry in the long term and do more to boost passenger number in the short term.”

The Go-Ahead Group, which operates a large number of electric buses, has urged local authorities to introduce revenue-raising schemes that would both encourage a shift to public transport and help fund decarbonisation.

Martin Dean, Managing Director Business Development at Go-Ahead, said; “Local authorities must find local solutions to protect residents from congestion and pollution, using a range of measures such as congestion charging and workplace parking levies. These can speed up buses, making them more attractive to use, whilst also creating more space for walking and cycling. The revenue from such schemes can also help fund the transition to zero emission.”

Since the Government’s commitment in February 2020 to deliver 4,000 zero-emission buses, only around 50-100 have been put on the road. Together with the ZEBRA and All Electric Bus Town schemes, Government funding for up to 900 has so far been made available, leaving the question of how the remaining 3,100 of the Government’s commitment will be delivered, and when the remaining 34,000 buses on the roads will shift to zero-emission.

To ensure these crucial targets are met, the Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to: set out a clear timeline and a long-term funding plan for zero-emission bus delivery to give industry confidence to invest; explore the role of innovative funding mechanisms and guaranteeing residual value in leasing schemes; lead a communications campaign alongside industry to increase public transport use post-pandemic; incentivise local authorities to explore innovative ways to increase bus use and provide additional revenue streams, including measures to discourage car use, and; provide detailed guidance, templates and standardised procurement frameworks and foster collaboration through the Bus Centre of Excellence.