York, Nottingham, Manchester and London among local authorities set to benefit from introduction of electric and low emissions buses
Four local authorities and eight bus operators in England have received grants from the governmentâ€™s Â£12 million Green Bus Fund, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced this week (May 27).
The grants will see 213 new low carbon buses introduced across, including 31 fully-electric buses, which produce zero exhaust emissions of air pollutants.
31 biomethane-fuelled buses and 151 diesel-hybrid buses will also be introduced, with the government paying up to half the cost difference between these buses and their standard diesel equivalent.
Following a three month bidding process, the DfT approved 14 projects, which will see eight bus operators receive Â£4.1 million and York city council, Nottingham city council, Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for London (TfL) split Â£7.5 million between them.
Nottingham city council is to receive more than Â£1.5 million for 15 fully-electric single-decker buses, while Stagecoach Manchester has secured more than Â£2 million to fund 38 low emission buses. In London, 90 buses are to be introduced after TfLâ€™s successful bid for more than Â£4.6 million.
Successful bidders for diesel-hybrid and biomethane gas buses, such as Stagecoach North East in Sunderland, will also be eligible to claim additional government subsidy through the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) incentive to run these vehicles. Bus operators and local authorities will be given six pence per kilometre to support them with energy and fuel costs.
The announcement marks the fourth round of the Green Bus Fund, which was launched with a budget of Â£20 million. A further announcement on spending the remainder of the budget will be made in due course, according to the DfT.
The Green Bus Fund aims to encourage bus operators and local councils to make the switch to more environmentally-friendly buses. The four rounds of the fund so far â€“ worth Â£87 million in total â€“ will have delivered more than 1,200 new low carbon buses in England and saved around 28,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, according to the DfT.
Transport minister Norman Baker said: â€œBuses are an essential part of peopleâ€™s day-to-day lives up and down the country and are a key tool for enabling economic growth. At the same time, we want this growth to be green, which is why we are investing in these brand new low carbon buses.
â€œIâ€™m glad these new technologies are breaking through into the mainstream. This further strengthens the case for operators in the UK to invest in ultra-low emission technologies and achieve a step change in cutting carbon.â€
The city of York is set to be one of the major beneficiaries of the grant, with a total of Â£824,000 funding granted to York city council, First York Limited and Transdev York for nine electric buses in the city.
The city council claims that more than 80% of the bus traffic through York could be operated using electric vehicles as a result of the successful bid. The buses will be assembled on the outskirts of the town near Sherburn by manufacturer Optare.
York city councillor Dave Merrett, cabinet member for transport, planning and sustainability, said: â€œThis is absolutely excellent news. We’ve been determined to improve air qualityÂ and the city’sÂ carbon footprint, and have been working with bus operators throughÂ York’s Quality Bus Partnership to achieve this. These nine new electric buses will be a tremendous step forward, and are a first step to demonstrating how we can transformÂ York’s bus fleet and environmentÂ for the future.â€
Simon Pearson, commercial director for First in North England, said: â€œThis announcement is great news for York and we will be working in partnership with city of York council to introduce these vehicles onto park and ride services in early 2014. Electric buses are an exciting step forward in terms of innovation and attracting new customers to use our services and demonstrates our commitment to improving bus services for people in York.â€
More information on the Green Bus Fund is available on the Department for Transport website.
Last month, transport minister Norman Baker told parliament that electric vehicle take-up in the UK was â€œin line with our anticipationâ€ (see airqualitynews.com story), although the government was also criticised in April for â€œfalling behindâ€ on electric vehicles by shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle (see airqualitynews.com story).