Coventry and Oxford set to be UK’s first all-electric bus cities

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that Coventry and Oxford are developing proposals to become the first parts of the UK to run all-electric bus services.

The cities are developing business cases in an England-wide competition to switch an entire town or city’s bus fleet to electric vehicles.

National Express Coventry started operating electric buses in the city last year after it pledged to buy no more diesel-powered buses for its UK Bus division. It hopes to operate a zero emissions bus fleet by 2030. RICHARD SHARMAN

Subject to successful business cases, each area could be awarded up to £50 million to not only replace its entire fleet of buses with all-electric versions, but to also install new infrastructure, such as charging stations, and pay for electric grid updates.

The change to a cleaner and greener bus fleet will help improve air quality and reduce emissions, helping further deliver on the government’s efforts to decarbonise the transport network, as well as support local businesses and jobs in the UK developing green buses.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As we build back greener from Covid-19, we can provide people with more environmentally-friendly transport and cleaner air.

“Coventry and Oxford could soon be at the forefront of our plans for a new era of bus services, helping us develop the green transport network of the future and support jobs right here in the UK.”

The government received 19 bids from across England to become the first all-electric bus town or city. Applicants were required to:

  • Demonstrate buy-in from stakeholders in their local areas;
  • Outline existing plans to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality; and
  • Show how the plan would tackle an existing air quality problem.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This news is brilliant for Coventry and the West Midlands, and I am delighted the Secretary of State and his department have once again put their faith in our region to deliver.

“Turning all of Coventry’s bus fleet electric is not only a major boost to public transport in the city, but it will also help tackle the climate emergency we face both here in the West Midlands and the wider UK.”

Oxfordshire County Council Leader, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: “Oxfordshire’s bid comes at a time when our council is determined to take concerted climate action to cut vehicle air pollution and expand the provision of bus services with our Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford plans. This council is committed to offering our residents a clean and environmentally sustainable future through a series of steps including through better public transport.”

The government will work with the two local authorities to finalise their business cases over the coming weeks.

The all-electric bus towns and cities competition is part of a wider package of measures to improve services and make bus journeys greener, easier and more reliable.

In February 2020 the government announced £5 billion for a new ‘golden era’ for bus and active travel. The UK’s first-ever long-term bus strategy will be launched in the coming months to ensure buses are prioritised into the future.

Oxford Bus Company Managing Director Phil Southall is seen with a BYD ADL Enviro200EV that was trialled in June last year. OBC