The Department for Transport (DfT) has unveiled plans to create the UK’s first ‘all-electric bus town’.
Local authorities can now apply to receive up to £50m to pay for a fleet of electric buses, which will form a pilot that could be rolled out across the UK from 2025.
The DfT hopes the pilot will help them understand the impact an electric fleet can have on running costs for bus operators and how it improves air quality compared to diesel buses.
The winning town or city must have a recognised air quality problem and it should have a self-contained urban bus network with few long-distance services.
The size of the bus fleet, and any relevant infrastructure, must also be suitable for a total electric conversion with the £50m funding, which will also be used for the cost of charging units, civil engineering and developing new software systems.
The idea has been mooted for some time and was included in the recent Conservative Party manifesto.
The bidding process will take place over two phases. In the first phase, the government wants local authorities, working with their partners, to define the challenges faced by their areas in tackling emissions.
It will then work with areas that are selected from Phase 1 to co-develop a business case that articulates the scope of the project and its costs, benefits and how it offers value for money, before choosing one town to receive the funding.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Buses carry more people than any other form of public transport in the UK, and with 200 electric buses able to offset 3,700 diesel cars, it is clear they have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions.
‘But Britain’s first all-electric bus town is just the start. By focusing on efficient and affordable transport, we will make greener journeys the natural choice.’
Local authorities can apply here.
Also announced today is £70m for new ‘Superbus’ networks which increase the frequency of services by investing in bus lanes and other priority measures. The first will be introduced in Cornwall next year, where the network will be integrated with the county’s main railway line.
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