Government eyes end date for sales of new fossil fuel buses by 2032 at the latest, as it touts fresh funding for zero emissions buses across England

Towns and cities across England are set to benefit from almost 1,000 new zero emission buses, after the government today unveiled the recipients of nearly £200m of funding to support the roll out of hydrogen and electric buses and associated charging infrastructure.

Launched last year, the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme has seen £198.3m funding handed out to local authority bidders to provide a total of 943 buses across 12 areas in England, from Greater Manchester to Portsmouth, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

It estimates the new buses could remove over 57,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 22 tonnes of nitrogen oxides on average each year.

In addition, the government has indicated it plans to end the sale of new fossil fuelled buses altogether within 10 years, today launching a consultation on setting a target to end the sale of new non-zero emissions buses by a specific date that would be set between 2025 and 2032.

A call for evidence has also been launched today on ending sales of new non-zero emissions coaches and minibuses in the near future, although no specific target date has been proposed.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government was on track to deliver on its commitment to fund a total of 4,000 zero emission buses across the country, in a bid to “level up and clean up our transport network”.

“Not only will this improve the experience of passengers, but it will help support our mission to fund 4,000 of these cleaner buses, reach net zero emissions by 2050 and build back greener,” he said. “Today’s announcement is part of our National Bus Strategy which will introduce lower fares, helping drive down the cost of public transport even further for passengers.”

Areas set to benefit from the near-£200m funding announced today are: Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth, Blackpool, Nottingham, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire, South Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, West Midlands, York and West Yorkshire. 

The awards build on almost £71m announced last year by the government to fund 335 new zero emission buses in five areas of the country, alongside a further £50m specifically for Coventry, which has been earmarked as the UK’s first all-electric bus city.

Martin Griffiths, chief executive of bus company Stagecoach, said the fresh funding announced today would help to compliment private sector investment in decarbonising the UK bus fleet.

“Stagecoach has already started its journey towards our target of a fully zero emission UK bus fleet by 2035, and there is also a major opportunity to deliver cleaner air by people switching to more sustainable public transport, cycling and walking,” he said. “Britain’s buses have an exciting future ahead, helping decarbonise the country, as well as driving economic recovery and levelling up our communities.” 

The news comes two months after reports suggested the government’s overall fund for improving bus services had been cut in half to £1.4bn, prompting accusations that the Prime Minister’s ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy had been left in tatters.

Figures compiled by Shadow Buses Minister Sam Tarry revealed the amount of funding bids submitted by 53 out of 79 local transport authorities to the extra funding pot stood at more than £7bn far exceeding the £1.4bn available and fuelling fears many more regional bus routes could be cut or have to increase fares.

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