Scotland to invest £40.5m in green buses

Some operators in Scotland are to benefit from a share of £40.5m of investment as part of the second round of the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEBS).

This is the largest investment yet through the SULEBS programme, and will support operators in replacing 215 diesel buses with new battery-electric models. This is an increase on the 57 buses supported through the first round and to help meet demand, the intended budget for this second round has been increased by £15m.

With 172 of the buses to be built by Alexander Dennis Ltd in Falkirk, the investment is being heralded as supporting skilled, green manufacturing jobs in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has also published a new information and ideas pack which shows how the bus and finance sectors are innovating to speed up the transition to net-zero. This is the first report from The Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce, which brings together senior leaders from the energy, bus and finance sectors to co-design a pathway to a fully decarbonised bus fleet. The information pack identifies new routes for financing green buses that can build on government support and bring about faster fleet transformation.

Paul Davies, Alexander Dennis President & Managing Director, said: “The Scottish Government deserves huge credit for leading by example to support bus operator’s commitment to invest in cleaner, greener buses and we are delighted that bids for 172 of our electric buses have been successful.

“These zero emission buses will be built at our factory in Falkirk and therefore ensure this Scottish Government investment is made domestically, allowing the benefits to be felt across our communities whilst helping to underpin skilled jobs. We very much look forward to working with the successful operators to finalise terms and get these vehicles into service at pace.”

Paul White, Director at CPT Scotland, said: “This announcement highlights the commitment of Scotland’s bus sector to decarbonisation. The £40.5m awarded by Government will be met with investment of over £80m from bus companies to fund these 215 vehicles.

“CPT will continue to work with Scottish Government to create an operating environment that prioritises sustainable and active travel, frees buses from congestion and maximises the benefits of this investment.”

First Bus has secured £24.3m of the money to help invest in 126 new electric BYD ADL electric buses for Glasgow. The operator has committed to spend a further £35.6m on the vehicles. These new buses are scheduled to be introduced by December 2022.

The addition of 126 new electric vehicles will take the total number of electric vehicles operating in Glasgow to 150, nearly 20% of the total First Glasgow fleet.

Janette Bell, First Bus’s Managing Director, said: “As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the Government’s ambitions for a net-zero carbon transport system, including zero-emission bus fleets. We have already committed to achieving this by 2035. We will continue to ensure that our progress doesn’t just exceed national guidelines, but that it also puts the expectations of our customers front and centre.”

Stagecoach is to introduce a further 46 new electric-buses following the SULEBS announcement. Representing an investment of £21.4m across Scotland, the electric-bus order consists of 22 BYD ADL Enviro400EVs for use in Aberdeen City, 15 BYD ADL Enviro200EVs for use in Kilmarnock and nine BYD ADL Enviro200EVs for use in Perth. The buses will be built at ADL’s factory in Falkirk.

Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “Sustainable public transport is critical to the future of our planet: decarbonising local journeys, reducing road congestion, improving air quality and tackling climate change. We welcome today’s announcement by Scottish Government of additional funding to support the roll out of 46 new electric buses in Scotland.

“This major investment will also provide a boost for Scotland’s world-leading bus manufacturing sector, helping to protect and grow jobs in Scotland. As major investment is made in zero and low emission buses, it also enables us to build further on developing in skills and training for our engineering teams to maintain the new greener fleet as we transition to new zero emission technologies.

“As Scotland gears up to host the COP 26 climate change summit in November, it’s a crucial time for us all to think about how we can help deliver a greener recovery from Covid-19. Major investment in new zero-emission buses also needs to be matched by better road infrastructure and more bus priority measures to help encourage people to make the switch from car to sustainable public transport.”

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