Zero emission buses to arrive across England in multi-million pound scheme

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A new scheme worth up to £120 million launched to help local transport authorities introduce zero emission buses and reduce carbon emissions from local public transport across England. The support follows the Governmet’s National Bus Strategy announcement, which set out how buses will be greener, cheaper, more frequent and more reliable.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the multimillion-pound scheme on Tuesday 30 March to enable local transport authorities to roll out zero-emission buses, as the Government continues its pledge to build back greener.

Up to £120 million is being made available through the Zero Emissions Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which will allow local transport authorities to bid for funding to purchase zero emission buses, which the Government says will deliver up to 500 zero-emission buses, as part of its wider commitment to introduce 4,000 zero-emission buses. The funding comes from the £3 billion fund announced by the Government to improve bus services in our national bus strategy, published on 15 March.

To ensure the funding is used quickly to help provide British bus manufacturers with an injection of orders, the Government is calling on a consortia of local transport authorities, energy companies, bus operators and manufacturers to come together to work up strong cases for funding. Bidders will have until 21 May this year to submit expressions of interest for a fast track process – which will allow local transport authorities with well-developed proposals to move quickly in their bid to secure funding. However, the Government has said it wants all local authorities to have the opportunity to submit bids and therefore those who need more time to develop their proposals will have until 25 June 2021 to submit expressions of interest.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “We’ve set out our vision of how we’re going to make buses better in this country, and now we’re getting on with delivering it. The launch of the scheme today means we’re giving businesses and local authorities the tools to help deliver the 4,000 zero emission buses we said we would introduce, which will dramatically improve air quality in towns and cities across the country, helping us achieve our net-zero ambitions.”

Silviya Barrett, Head of Policy, Research and Projects at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Zero-emission buses are great news all round. As well as addressing climate change and air pollution, this funding will boost the bus manufacturing sector and give more passengers the best modern buses. We’re glad that the Government has appreciated the need to speed up the transition to zero emission buses.”

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), added: “The BCC very much welcomes investment in initiatives that boost public transport infrastructure and the UK’s drive towards Net Zero.

“This is a welcome injection of cash and confidence for businesses in this sector and for towns and cities across the country. Access to affordable, reliable and greener public transport will be a key to re-building local economies.”

The announcement comes as Coventry recently received £50m of funding from the All-Electric Bus Towns and Cities competition, and follows the announcment of over £30 million of funding to support research into battery technology, the electric vehicle supply chain and hydrogen vehicles, which will see twenty-two studies will receive a share of £9.4 million, including proposals to build a plant in Cornwall that will extract lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries, a plant to build specialised magnets for electric vehicle motors in Cheshire and lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans in Loughborough.