Transport secretary Grant Shapps has launched a multimillion-pound scheme to enable local transport authorities to roll out zero-emission buses, it has announced.
The scheme will make £120 million available through the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which will allow local transport authorities to bid for funding for zero-emission buses, reduce carbon emissions from public transport and improve air quality.
The funding will deliver up to 500 zero-emission buses, following the government’s commitment to 4,000 zero-emission buses. It comes from the wider £3 billion fund announced by the government to improve bus services in the national bus strategy published on 15 March.
To ensure cash from the fund is used swiftly to assist British bus manufacturers with forward orders, the government is calling on consortia of local transport authorities, energy companies, bus operators and manufacturers to come together to work up strong cases for funding.
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. The government wants all local authorities to have the opportunity to submit bids and, so will also offer more time to develop proposals until 25 June 2021 to submit expressions of interest.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps, said: “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. 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.”
Silviya Barrett, head of policy at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “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. We’re glad that the government has appreciated the need to speed up the transition to zero-emission buses.”
Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), said: “The BCC very much welcomes investment in initiatives that boost public transport infrastructure and the UK’s drive towards net-zero. This is a welcome injection of cash and confidence for businesses in this sector and for towns and cities across the country. Access to affordable, reliable and greener public transport will be a key to rebuilding local economies.”