Is bus leasing the future?

A bus leasing model has been proposed by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). The model would see operators pay a fee in exchange for long term usage of a bus. The purchase of these buses, which would all be zero emission, would be financed through a combination of £2bn of government and private investment.

The CPT notes that while bus operators have invested £2bn in new cleaner and greener buses over the last five years the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that annual orders for around 2,750 buses have been reduced or cancelled entirely. This difficult decision has been made because of unprecedented falls in passenger revenue as a result of social distancing measures. The trade body stressed that as well as representing an immediate threat to 10,000 jobs and apprenticeships in UK bus manufacturing, the pandemic also means the traditional model of government grants to support the increased costs associated with the purchase of green buses is unsuitable as it still requires significant upfront investment from operators.

CPT Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, said: “Any new bus purchased today is already cleaner than the equivalent car and the industry remains committed to ensuring that from 2025 every new bus on our roads will be ultra-low or zero emission. Our new proposals kick start that process helping the Government to achieve its ambition for 4,000 new zero emission buses, contributing to a green recovery from COVID-19 and protecting highly skilled UK manufacturing jobs.”

The CPT cited research that suggests one million more cars could be on the roads post-pandemic. It highlighted the importance of encouraging people back onto the bus following the Government’s “avoid public transport messaging” to both reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.

Graham Vidler continued: “One extra bus journey per person each month would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by two million tonnes a year. In the aftermath of the ‘avoid public transport’ message the Government will need to work with operators on a high profile campaign to get people back onto the bus in the months ahead.”

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