Up to Â£7.8 million in funding is being made available to Scottish local authorities and bus operators to retrofit buses to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions.
The second phase of the Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit (BEAR) programme opens this week, and will â€˜significantly offset the financial costs associated with the installation of accredited retrofitting technology to reduce emissionsâ€™, the Scottish Government has said.
The funding is available to licensed bus and coach operators, local authorities and community transport operators operating on routes within Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow or one of Scotlandâ€™s Air Quality Management Areas.
A total of 47 buses were converted to the Euro VI standard as a result of the initial phase of funding, with phase two set to be delivered in 2018/19. Applicants have been given until 1 March 2019 to submit a bid for funding, with pots of up to a maximum of Â£3.5 million per bidder available.
Technologies accredited under the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) are eligible for funding support, and could include Selective Catalytic Reduction, electric drive conversions or e-fans to reduce fuel consumption.
Commenting on the latest round of funding, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson, said: â€œBy working in partnership with bus operators we can encourage a greener fleet and enjoy cleaner air. We are already seeing operators invest in new vehicles and this second phase of retrofit funding will help extend the life of around five hundred older buses, making them part of the solution to help improve the quality of the air in our towns and cities.
â€œThis funding is in addition to the successful Scottish Green Bus Fund which has provided more than Â£17m across eight rounds of funding to introduce over 360 modern buses across the country.â€
Matthew Eastwood, Head of Transport at the Energy Saving Trust, added: â€œWe are very pleased to be supporting the Scottish Government and Scotlandâ€™s bus operators by delivering Phase two of the BEAR programme. Public transport, especially buses, play a key role in keeping Scotland moving and are a significant part of the solution to air quality in our towns and cities.â€
Phase one of the BEAR programme began earlier this year, and included an investment of around Â£1.6 million for vehicle retrofits, as well as more than Â£500,000 awarded to Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow councils to support the introduction of Low Emission Zones in the cities.
Glasgowâ€™s LEZ will be the first of four such zones to be introduced in Scotland by the end of the decade. As well as Dundee and Edinburgh, a LEZ is also being established in Aberdeen, all of which are expected to be in place by 2020.
Transport Scotland has also launched a new public website to provide national information on LEZs in Scotland.
The website will explain what LEZs are, how they work, how they are developed and provide answers to a number of frequently asked questions, Transport Scotland has said.