Winners of Low Emission Bus Scheme funding announced

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£30m funding includes a mixture of hybrid, electric, biomethane and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, along with supporting infrastructure

Transport Minister Andrew Jones has confirmed £30m of government funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) Low Emission Bus Scheme to fund 326 new buses.

Bus operators and local authorities across England have been awarded a share of the funding to buy low emission buses and install chargepoints and other infrastructure. In total, there are 13 successful bidders, with schemes including electric, hybrid, hydrogen and biomethane buses, along with £7m worth of infrastructure.

Andrew Jones MP said: “My message is clear – greener buses are good for passengers and good for British business.

“Low emission buses have already proved to be a real success across the country. They are cost efficient, good for the environment, and there are wider benefits. We have provided more than £2 billion of funding to greener transport schemes since 2011, and by supporting this technology the government is ensuring the UK is driving innovation and investment up and down the country.”

Among the winners are:

  • Transport for London (TfL): £5m for 34 electric buses and supporting infrastructure;
  • Merseytravel and Arriva Merseyside: £4.9m for 72 biomethane, hybrid or electric buses and associated infrastructure;
  • Nottingham City Transport (NCT): £4.4m for 53 ADL-bodied Scania biomethane buses and infrastructure;
  • National Express West Midlands: £3m for 10 hybrid and 19 electric buses, and electric charging facilities;
  • Birmingham City Council and TfL: jointly won £2.8m for 42 hydrogen fuel cell buses. Birmingham City Council told CBW that the bus operator it is working with is National Express West Midlands.;
  • Transdev Blazefield: £2.25m for eight electric single-decker Volvos and infrastructure;
  • Reading Buses: £1.72m for 16 biomethane buses and infrastructure (of which £1.65m is going towards infrastructure);
  • Milton Keynes Borough Council: £1.75m for 11 electric buses and supporting infrastructure;
  • Sheffield City Region: £1.3m for 44 buses fitted with hybrid technology;
  • Nottingham City Council: £920k for electric bus infrastructure;
  • Nottingham County Council: £520k for two electric buses and infrastructure;
  • Kingston University: £350k for seven hybrids; and
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority: £234k for eight hybrids.

NCT Engineering Director Gary Mason said: “We’ve established that from the production of the gas itself, to when it’s powering the engines of the double deckers, bio-gas offers an outstanding long-term sustainable alternative to diesel. For OLEV to also recognise this also and award the funding is both rewarding for us as a company and exciting for the city as a whole.”

A TfL spokesman told CBW that the supplier(s) of its electric buses remained to be confirmed as this issue went to press. TfL was also unable to confirm which route(s) the electric buses would be allocated to, except to say that they will work routes

which “enter the ULEZ by 2020.”

Alex Hornby, Transdev Blazefield CEO, told CBW: “We are delighted with the news we have been successful in our bid for eight electric single-decker Volvos, which will be used on our Harrogate local town network from quarter one of 2018. Specification details will be announced in due course.”

Reading Buses Chief Engineer John Bickerton said: “This bid will allow us to continue the expansion of our gas bus fleet as we bring our double deck gas buses online.

“We hope that other operators will see what we are doing with gas as a cost-effective alternative to the battery headaches of electric buses, costs of hybrids and the complexity of a Euro 6 diesel.”

Cllr Kevin Greaves, of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Receiving the green light for the first electric buses in our fleet is a significant moment for public transport in Nottinghamshire.
“The county council is committed to improving air quality, addressing climate change and exploring sustainable transport opportunities and we are delighted that we will be able to move forward with this innovative project.”

Details from other winners were awaited as this issue went to press.