Coaches and buses feature in ‘build back better’ proposal

Coaches, minibuses and buses are all part of Greater Manchester’s plans to ‘build back better’.

Greater Manchester is calling on Government to help it tackle air pollution as the city-region sets out ambitions for a green economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic has seen air pollution levels drop by 30% and road traffic volumes fall by as much as 52% across Greater Manchester as a result of the lockdown.

The local authority asks the government for £98m for a Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund for vans, HGVs, coaches and minibuses (increased from £59m). It requests £16m for a Clean Bus Fund to support retrofitting the existing bus fleet. Greater Manchester is also working with Government on additional funding for the replacement of vehicles that can’t be retrofitted with new, cleaner vehicles. Requests have been made for funding for 350 new electric vehicle charging points, doubling the size of the existing Greater Manchester publicly owned charging network, and for up to 600 electric buses by the mid-2020s. A new £10m hardship fund has been asked for, which would be dedicated to small businesses and sole traders who could face additional financial concerns to help them switch to compliant vehicles.

To build on this, and give businesses across the city-region the support they need to prepare for the introduction of a Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone as directed by Government, the Mayor is calling on ministers to financially support the city-region’s plans to rebuild the economy in an environmentally sustainable way. The financial package would enable Greater Manchester businesses and transport operators to make the shift to cleaner vehicles.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Our focus has rightly been on reducing as best we can the terrible impacts of coronavirus on our people and our businesses.

“But it’s also right that we now look to the future and how we can make sure that, as we recover, we build back better, but at the same time build back greener.

“We’ve seen tremendous shifts in travel patterns over the last few months, with reduced air pollution levels, more people than ever before cycling and walking, and a significant switch to working from home, and we need to keep these benefits.

“We can’t go back to how we were – no one wants to see the levels of air pollution and congestion we were experiencing. We must seize the opportunities offered by this difficult situation to support our businesses through recovery and into a greener future.

“To achieve that we need dedicated funding from Government to support our businesses as they move to cleaner vehicles, and long-term funding to support the roll out of more cycling and walking measures and to make sure our public transport network is capable of supporting our economy in a much more environmentally friendly way.”

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