Local authorities can now apply to become the UK’s first all-electric bus town, setting the ‘gold-standard’ in environmentally friendly public transport, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced. The winning area will receive up to £50 million ($ 65 million) to help pay for a brand-new fleet of electric buses, reducing emissions and cleaning up the air in their community.
A town with 200 electric buses could save around 7,400 tonnes of CO2 each year, the equivalent to taking 3,700 diesel cars off the road. The £50 million ($65 million) fund is part of a total £170 million ($221 million) allocated to improve services and make bus journeys greener, easier and more reliable. This commitment marks the next step in delivering the government’s £220 million ($286 million) package to overhaul bus services across England and level up transport infrastructure.
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. Helping deliver on our manifesto promise, this £170 million ($221 million) package will help us to create communities which are cleaner, easier to get around and more environmentally friendly, speeding up journeys and making them more reliable. By focusing on efficient and affordable transport, we will make greener journeys the natural choice.”
The government is also making it easier and more convenient to take the bus through a new £20 million ($26 million) fund to encourage the development and trial of on-demand ride sharing services in rural and suburban areas, helping people to plan their journeys down to the minute. The fund will boost traditional services by helping people use bus travel to get closer to where they live, at a time that is convenient for them.
A further £30 million ($39 million) of funding in 2020 to 2021 has also been confirmed for local authorities to help them improve current bus services or restore those that have been lost. Every local authority in England, outside of London, is eligible for this funding to ensure that crucial bus routes can be revived or reinvigorated.
Passengers will also benefit from new low-fare, high-frequency Superbus networks to 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, which will also see increased train frequency, connecting people with jobs, education and family.
Investments are also being made to speed up bus journeys. As part of the first tranche of the £2.5 billion ($3.25 million) Transforming Cities Fund, Derby and Nottingham, the North East, Portsmouth and Southampton will see the deployment of bus priority traffic lights to speed up trips to the city centres.
The government announced last year that it will launch the UK’s first-ever long-term bus strategy and long-term funding plan, to ensure that buses are prioritised into the future.