Councils urged to apply for all-electric bus town funding

Local authorities can now apply to become the UK’s first all-electric bus town, a move that Grant Shapps has hailed as the ‘gold-standard’ in environmentally friendly public transport.

The Transport Secretary announced that the winning area will receive up to £50 million to help pay for a brand-new fleet of electric buses, reducing emissions and cleaning up the air in their community. It is believed that 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 fund is part of a total £170 million allocated by the Department for Transport to improve services and make bus journeys greener, easier and more reliable. £20 million will also be set aside 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 government has also commented that a further £30 million of funding in 2020 to 2021 has 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.

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 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.”

Darren Rodwell, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “It is good that the government recognises the importance of buses in connecting communities with each other and helping them to access local services. Local bus services can be a lifeline to older and vulnerable residents and can also play a key role in tackling congestion and reducing greenhouse gases.

“This funding is a step in the right direction. We would urge the government to go further in the forthcoming Budget, and plug the £700 million annual funding gap councils face in providing the concessionary fares scheme, which would help to protect local routes and reverse the decline in bus services. This gap is forcing many councils to increasingly have to divert funding from discretionary routes and services to prop up the statutory scheme.”