£30m of government funding for investment in green buses has been announced by Transport Minister, Andrew Jones. Bus operators and local authorities across England have been awarded a share of the Low Emission Bus Scheme (LEBS) funding to buy low emission buses and install chargepoints and other infrastructure. In total, the 13 successful bidders will be able to add 326 buses (electric, hybrid, hydrogen and bio-methane) to their fleets, as well as install over £7m worth of infrastructure. The money awarded is intended to cover up to 90% of the difference in cost between a new bus and its diesel equivalent, as well as up to 75% of the cost of infrastructure.
The largest award outside of London is £4.9m to Merseytravel for a total of 72 bio-methane, hybrid or electric buses and their infrastructure, closely followed by £4.4m to Nottingham City Transport for 53 bio-methane double deckers and their related equipment. 16 Further bio-methane double-deckers will be added to Reading Buses existing fleet following an award of £1.7m.
Hybrid technology features in the awards to Sheffield City Region, £1.3m for 44 buses, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, £234,000 for eight vehicles for Leeds Park and Ride and Kingston University, £347,400 for seven buses.
London will be benefit from the award of £5m funding to TfL for 34 electric buses and from the joint project between Birmingham City Council and TfL which will receive £2.8m for 42 hydrogen fuel cell buses and a further £1m for the associated infrastructure.
The other awards to feature electric buses and infrastructure are £1.76m to Milton Keynes Borough Council for 11 buses, Nottinghamshire County Council with £526,900 for two buses and Transdev Blazefield with £2.3m for eight electric buses. Nottingham City Council will receive £921,154 for additional electric buses and West Midlands Travel (National Express) has been awarded over £3m to fund ten hybrid and 19 fully electric buses, as well as install electric charging facilities.
The scheme builds on the previous Green Bus Funds, which saw £89m of government funding. This investment has put more than 1,200 green buses on England’s roads, representing 4% of buses in service. The government has also invested over £26m since 2013 to retrofit more than 2,000 buses in pollution hotspots with low emission technology. The government’s support for low emission buses is one part of a £600m package of measures from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) by 2020, which also includes £400m of guaranteed money for individual plug-in car grants, investment in ultra-low emission taxis and research and development funding for innovative technology such as lighter vehicles and better car batteries.
Andrew Jones 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 £2bn 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.’
Transdev Blazefield CEO Alex Hornby said: ‘I’m delighted and immensely proud that we’re one of only 13 organisations to secure funding this year under the Government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme. The aim of our innovative bid was to attract funding that will take electric buses to the next level in the UK, and the contribution will allow us to introduce the next generation of electric buses to Britain and our home town of Harrogate. It’s a further sign of our determination to set new standards for bus travel and is great news for our passengers.’ In a Tweet, Alex hinted about adopting a Volvo application not before used in the UK on routes serving the Bilton, Jennyfield and Pannal Ash areas of Harrogate from early 2018.
Nottinghamshire County Council will match fund the scheme with £410,000 from its transport budget for a £910,000 project to introduce two electric buses on the 510 route serving local communities in Stapleford and Beeston.
Councillor Kevin Greaves, Committee Chairman for Transport and Highways, at 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.
Reading Buses’ Chief Engineer John Bickerton welcomed the announcement, ‘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 Vl diesel. The gas vehicles are also among the most reliable in our fleet and the engineers like their simplicity. We have always seen compressed natural gas as a viable, sustainable fuel. We put our own money where our mouth is and, thanks to this grant, we are able to continue to use and promote gas as a sustainable fuel feed of the future too.’ The company buys their gas through the Gas Bus Alliance, and is certificated as carbon neutral with the gas coming from farm waste.