Bus Service Operators Grant now includes Zero Emission Bus incentive

The Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) now includes the Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) incentive for the first time and operators who hold a zero-emission bus certificate for their vehicles will be subsidised at a 22p per km rate. The new grants will cover both new e-buses and repowered conversions.

BSOG is a grant paid to operators of bus services and community transport organisations to help them recover some of their fuel costs, with the amount received based on their annual fuel consumption.

By reducing costs, BSOG is intended to help operators keep fares down for passengers and allow them to run services that might otherwise be unprofitable.

Until now, new electric buses and ICE buses repowered with state-of-the-art EV powertrains have not been eligible for BSOG, which has served as a significant disincentive for operators to embrace electrification – and simultaneously prolonged the usage of polluting ICE vehicles.

Revisions to the scheme have finally addressed this, including a new Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) incentive for the first time with a rate for electric buses, whether for new or repowered vehicles, set at 22 pence per kilometre.

Electrification specialist, Equipmake, has welcomed the newly announced changes to the BSOG, but calls for more incentives to encourage operators to go electric.

Ian Foley, Managing Director, Equipmake, said: “The Bus Service Operators Grant being updated to include electrified buses is a welcome and necessary step in the right direction and one Equipmake has advocated for some time. By repowering buses with electric power, the technology exists to bring cleaner air to every town and city in the UK very rapidly indeed. Along with new electric buses, repowered buses represent a historic opportunity to deliver a transformation to sustainable mobility that must not be wasted.

“We know there is a clear appetite for this. While national new bus sales are massively down, we are seeing strong demand and have plans to expand our facility, creating 180 jobs, bringing the total number of staff employed at Equipmake to 255. The changes to BSOG will only increase interest and will hopefully help repowered electric buses consign the diesel-powered bus to the history books, where it belongs.

“The value of repower technology is still not fully appreciated. If the government funded 75% of the difference between a diesel bus and a new electric one, the operator would pay £250,000 and the government £150,000.

“But change that business model to include a British-built electric repower and the Treasury’s contribution is reduced, while the cost to the operator is halved. Not only does this represent a significant saving on the purchase price of a new hybrid or diesel vehicle, but EV buses also have far lower operating costs, too.

“The opportunity is clear for all to see. Repowering the drivetrains of existing buses with electric technology at scale can rapidly and dramatically reduce pollution and provide the UK bus industry with a much-needed shot in the arm. The government must seize the initiative and make it happen, and contributing to conversions would be an ideal way of doing so.”

Image: courtesy Equipmake

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