Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has launched a multimillion-pound scheme to enable local transport authorities to roll out zero-emission buses, as part of the government’s aim to “build back greener.”
Up to £120 million is being made available through the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which will allow local transport authorities to bid for funding to purchase zero-emission buses, which the Department for Transport (DfT) hopes will reduce transport emissions and improve urban air quality.
The funding will deliver up to 500 zero-emission buses, supporting the government’s wider commitment to introduce 4,000 zero-emission buses.
The funding comes from the wider £3 billion fund announced by the government to improve bus services in the national bus strategy published earlier this month.
To ensure the funding from today’s zero-emission-bus fund is used quickly to help provide British bus manufacturers with an injection of orders, the government says it is calling on consortia of local transport authorities, energy companies, bus operators and manufacturers to come together to work up strong cases for funding. The DfT claims this will help make sure that buses are built, bought and being driven on UK roads efficiently to the benefit of local economies and communities.
Bidders will have until 21 May 2021 to submit expressions of interest for a fast-track process that will allow local transport authorities with well-developed proposals to move quickly in their bid to secure funding.
However, the government has said it wants all local authorities to have the opportunity to submit bids and, therefore, those who need more time to develop their proposals will have until 25 June 2021 to submit expressions of interest.
We’ve set out our vision of how we’re going to make buses better in this country, and now we’re getting on with delivering it,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“The launch of the scheme today means we’re giving businesses and local authorities the tools to help deliver the 4,000 zero-emission buses we said we would introduce, which will dramatically improve air quality in towns and cities across the country, helping us achieve our net-zero ambitions.”
“Zero-emission buses are great news all round. As well as addressing climate change and air pollution, this funding will boost the bus manufacturing sector and give more passengers the best modern buses,” added Silviya Barrett, Head of Policy, Research and Projects at Campaign for Better Transport.
“We’re glad that the government has appreciated the need to speed up the transition to zero-emission buses.”
The news comes as the government announces over £30 million of funding to support pioneering research into battery technology, the electric vehicle supply chain and hydrogen vehicles.
Twenty-two studies will receive a share of £9.4 million, including proposals to build a plant in Cornwall that will extract lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries, a plant to build specialised magnets for electric vehicle motors in Cheshire, and lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans in Loughborough.