Funding Enables Nearly 1,000 Zero-Emission Buses to Hit the Roads in England

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The United Kingdom’s government has invested another 143 million pounds to roll out almost a thousand new zero-emission buses in England.

UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper has confirmed that 955 zero-emission buses will hit the road as 25 councils receive funding to decarbonize their bus fleets, with rural areas prioritized as part of the government’s plan to improve local transport.

From Derbyshire to Devon, to Torbay and the Tees Valley, the new investment will make local bus fleets more efficient, comfortable and sustainable while improving local trips.

The funding comes from the second round of the Zero-Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) program, which will see new electric buses in towns, villages and cities across England, including the most rural parts of the nation, many of which will get zero-emission buses for the first time.

Thanks to the ZEBRA scheme, no other European nation registered as many electric buses in 2023 as the UK, with zero-emission buses accounting for almost half of all new large buses introduced in 2023, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This investment follows over 270 million pounds to 16 local transport authorities (LTAs) and councils from the first round of ZEBRA funding, bringing the total government support to roll out zero-emission buses to more than 413 million pounds across 41 LTAs.

As more than half of electric buses from the first round of the ZEBRA scheme are manufactured in the UK, introducing up to 955 new electric buses will continue to help support skilled UK jobs and grow the economy.

To make sure more parts of England benefit from better buses and green technology, particularly rural areas where decarbonizing buses is in its early stages, the government has prioritized the first 40 million pounds for rural communities.

The funding is in addition to more than 3.5 billion pounds the government has invested since 2020 to protect and improve bus services in England. Thanks to reallocated High Speed 2 (HS2) funding, the 2-pound bus fare cap has also been extended to December 31, 2024, and a further 1 billion pounds is being invested to improve bus services in the north and the Midlands.

The new zero-emission buses follow 4.7 billion pounds of reallocated HS2 funding invested directly into the north and Midlands through the local transport fund to invest in improvements such as refurbished local bus stations and improve local connections for more people, in more places, more quickly.

“As part of our plan to improve local transport across the country, we’re providing a further 143 million pounds to improve journeys for bus passengers particularly in rural areas, with almost a thousand brand new, zero-emission buses due to hit the road,” says Harper. “This latest investment into our bus fleet comes on top of the 3.5 billion pounds we have invested into our bus network since 2020, protecting and improving bus routes into 2025 as well as extending the 2-pound bus fare cap until the end of 2024, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.”

The new zero-emission buses will also drive on smoother roads thanks to 8.3 billion pounds to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads in England over the next decade, the biggest-ever funding uplift to improve local roads, all thanks to reallocated HS2 funding.

“CPT (the Confederation of Passenger Transport) welcomes this support from government to help accelerate vital public and private investment in new zero-emissions vehicles and charging infrastructure,” adds Alison Edwards, director of policy and external relations at CPT. “The transition to a zero-emission bus fleet is a huge opportunity for Britain to lead the world in creating a modern zero-emission bus network that offers a growing number of passengers one of the most sustainable forms of transport.”

The new buses will also meet enhanced accessibility standards and will come with the latest passenger experience features, such as Wi-Fi and USB charging sockets.

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