Greener and Cheaper

Let's agree. "Bus Back Better" is a poor three-word selection to describe what is essentially greener and cheaper bus journeys. For decades, Bus & Rail fares in the country have continued to increase far beyond inflation.

Bus & Coach fares increase Vs Motoring Expenditure.

With £200 million in government funding announced as part of the National Bus Strategy, the government is pledging 943 green buses (Electric and Hydrogen) to make bus journeys affordable and less polluting.

This funding should benefit major "Made in Britain" Electric Bus manufacturers such as Wrightbus, Pelican Yutong and BYD Europe. The budget would also cover charging infrastructure and software improvements.

The funding comes from the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which was launched last year to allow local transport authorities to bid for funding to purchase zero emission buses.

The areas that will be receiving the ZEBRA funding are:

  • Norfolk
  • North Yorkshire
  • Portsmouth
  • Blackpool
  • Nottingham
  • Greater Manchester
  • Hertfordshire
  • South Yorkshire
  • Oxfordshire
  • West Midlands
  • York
  • West Yorkshire

Nottingham will receive £15 million towards the cost of 78 brand new buses and electric charging infrastructure. The new buses will see the full electrification of NCT's single deck bus fleet at its Trent Bridge Garage, replacing all of NCT's existing single deck fleet, which serves 18 bus routes across the Greater Nottingham area.

“The electrification of our bus fleet is not a commercial proposition without this significant ZEBRA funding. This will now help us to progress our ambitious plans to become one of the UK’s first carbon neutral bus operators. Our thanks to Nottingham City Council, who played an important part in developing our successful bid.” - David Astill, Nottingham City Transport’s Managing Director
“We recognise the scale of the challenge the world faces in reaching net zero. That’s why reducing emissions and creating green jobs lies at the heart of our transport agenda. Today’s multimillion-pound investment is an enormous step towards a cleaner future, helping ensure transport is fit for generations to come and allowing millions of people to get around in a way that is kinder to our environment.” - Transport Minister Baroness Vere

Note the absence of any region in South West England in this selection. The DfT turned down six out of 18 applications that proceeded to the business case submission stage. These are:

  • Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
  • Southampton City Council
  • Swindon Borough Council
  • Tees Valley Combined Authority
  • Transport North East and Worcestershire County Council
“Ending the sale of new fossil-fuelled buses and coaches will require even more extensive investments [than expanding the zero-emission e-bus vehicle parc]. Dedicated infrastructure – above and beyond what has been pledged this week for electric car usage – will be required if, as seems likely, buses are to be the first heavy vehicle segment to decarbonise. The coach sector, meanwhile, will also need a dedicated and complete package of measures, including incentives, plus suitable parking and charging provision across the UK.” - SMMT Mike Hawes

All-Electric Bus City

Coventry reportedly became the UK's first All-Electric Bus City with 300 electric buses, another 100 from previous schemes.

Public consultation

Today, the government will launch a public consultation seeking views on setting a specific date between 2025 and 2032 to end the sale of new non-zero emission (at the tailpipe) buses.

More pragmatic

While Electric Buses are favourite, the strategy stresses the importance of considering all technologies, including Hydrogen, for their contribution to decarbonisation and utility. There is also willingness to accept low carbon fuels such as bio-diesel and biomethane as transitional technologies.

Bus2Grid

Like the pilot vehicle-to-grid programme, the government would like to explore using electric buses to power the grid during high demands. The project will develop services to support National Grid, local Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), bus operators and transport authorities and, at the same time, will consider bus feet consumer engagement approaches necessary for its commercial implementation.

References

Stagecoach: Roadmap to zero