Local Transport Authorities secure ZEBRA funding

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As part of the budget announcements on 27 October, the Department for Transport confirmed an allocation of £71 million towards 335 zero-emission buses as part of successful Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) applications by the following Local Transport Authorities under the fast track process:

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

The authority, working with the Greater Cambridge Partnership, requested a grant award of £4.295m to help provide zero-emission replacements for the first 10% of the region’s 350-strong bus fleet in operation on the urban and interurban bus network across the region. The grant represents 26% of the overall project of over £16.5 million, with the balance being funded from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority’s Transforming Cities Fund, Greater Cambridge Partnership’s City Deal, and operator partner Stagecoach East. This will support the purchase of 30 new battery electric double-deck buses to operate on the park and ride and Citi2 routes, and will also include in-depot charging infrastructure and opportunity charging infrastructure at a park and ride location, including grid connections, to extend vehicle range while the bus is in service. The new buses are expected to enter service in the second half of 2022.

Kent County Council

The county council has secured £9.5m of funding from the ZEBRA scheme. The total cost will cover the purchase of 33 electric opportunity-charging single-decker buses and associated 15-year warranties. The balance is for associated infrastructure, covering the supply and installation of eight on-street 450kW opportunity chargers and six secondary 50kW depot chargers.

This investment is for the existing Kent Thameside network and the new Dover Fastrack service, due to start in 2023. It will make Fastrack Kent’s first zero-emission bus service.

Leicester City Council

The city council successfully bid for £19million, which will go towards a £47million programme that will see the introduction of 96 new electric buses which will operate on 21 of the city’s main routes. The council will work in partnership with operators First Bus and Arriva which will provide match-funding of around £15.7million and £10.1million respectively, with the city council contributing £2.2million towards the programme. It will see 68 new single-deck electric buses operated by First Leicester and the introduction of the city’s first all-electric double-deckers, with 22 to be operated by Arriva Midlands.

Milton Keynes Borough Council

The borough council’s £16m bid, made by MK Council in partnership with Arriva The Shires, will lead to 56 electric buses and an upgraded overnight charging depot facility, with some of the new vehicles arriving in 2022. An additional £16m will be available through a special finance arrangements that will be offered to MK Council, making the scheme’s total cost £32m.

Warrington Borough Council

Municipal operator Warrington’s Own Buses, which is wholly owned by the council and covers 85% of the bus mileage in the borough, will see its entire fleet of 120 diesel buses replaced by new electric buses.

Independently of ZEBRA, Warrington Borough Council has committed, as part of the Warrington Town Deal to delivering a new bus depot at a purpose-built new facility on Dallam Lane. Work on the site will begin in December 2021, and the successful ZEBRA bid means the council can forge ahead with plans to equip the new depot with electric vehicle charging infrastructure, ready to house the new fleet of zero-emission buses.

The total cost of the ZEBRA Project over 17 years is £50m. Around £21.5m will be provided by ZEBRA grant funding, with the council and Warrington’s Own Buses providing the remaining amount.

In addition to the fast-track applications, further areas are currently putting a business case together under the standard-track scheme. These are:

  • Blackpool Council
  • City of York Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
  • Norfolk County Council
  • North Yorkshire County Council
  • Nottingham City Council
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Portsmouth City Council & Hampshire County Council
  • Sheffield City Region Combined Authority
  • Southampton City Council
  • Swindon Borough Council
  • Tees Valley Combined Authority
  • Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Transport North East
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority
  • Worcestershire County Council

The October 2021 Spending Review announced that a further £150 million would be available to support the ZEBRA scheme, taking the total funding available for the scheme to £270 million in the financial year 2021 to 2022, from the initial allocated £120 million.

Warrington’s Own Buses will see its entire fleet of 120 buses replaced with electric buses through the scheme. ADL