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Government Invests £143 Million into Cutting-Edge Fleet of Zero-Emission Buses


Image Credit: Department for Transport


Transport Secretary Mark Harper has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative, injecting £143 million into the rollout of nearly 1,000 zero-emission buses across England. This transformative move, part of the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) program's second phase, aims to revolutionize public transportation networks nationwide.


The government pledges to deploy these eco-friendly buses in 25 councils across England to enhance local travel infrastructure. Rural areas, prioritized with a £40 million allocation, will witness significant improvements in their transport connectivity, benefiting millions of passengers.


The distribution of funds reflects a strategic approach, with the South West set to receive 352 electric buses following an injection of over £43 million. Similarly, the South East will welcome 179 vehicles with a £30 million investment. At the same time, the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority will lead the charge with 74 new buses, supported by £6.6 million in government funding.


Further bolstering eco-friendly transport initiatives, the East Midlands will integrate 177 zero-emission buses funded by £25 million, and the West Midlands will see 44 buses added to its fleet, backed by £7.4 million.


The North East, North West, Yorkshire, and the Humber regions are also primed for significant upgrades. Investments totaling almost £15 million, £9.4 million, and nearly £6 million, respectively, will facilitate the deployment of 105, 58, and 40 electric buses.


These state-of-the-art vehicles, designed to meet Enhanced Accessibility Standards, will feature amenities like Wi-Fi and USB charging sockets, ensuring passengers a comfortable and convenient travel experience.


Today's announcement builds upon the success of previous ZEBRA funding rounds, with over £270 million allocated to 16 local authorities. This cumulative investment surpasses £413 million across 41 authorities, marking a substantial commitment to zero-emission public transportation.


Statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) further underscore the UK's leadership in the electric bus market. They reveal that nearly half of all new large buses introduced last year were zero-emission vehicles.


Moreover, the government's dedication to supporting domestic manufacturing is evident, with more than half of the electric buses procured through the ZEBRA scheme manufactured in the UK. This influx of 955 new vehicles promotes sustainability and stimulates job growth and economic development in local communities.


"As part of our plan to improve local transport across the country, we're providing a further £143m to improve journeys for bus passengers, particularly in rural areas, with almost a thousand brand new, zero-emission buses due to hit the road," said Transport Secretary Mark Harper.


This latest funding injection builds upon the government's ongoing commitment to improving bus services, with over £3.5 billion invested since 2020. The extension of the £2 bus fare cap until December 31, 2024, and a £1 billion investment to enhance bus services in the North and Midlands further underscore the government's dedication to accessible and sustainable public transportation.


Alison Edwards, director of policy and external relations at the Confederation of Passenger Transport, welcomed the government's latest funding awards.


"The transition to a zero-emission bus fleet is a huge opportunity for Britain to lead the world in creating a modern zero-emission bus network that offers a growing number of passengers one of the most sustainable forms of transport," she said.


The announcement coincides with the launch of the UK's first 100% electric long-distance coach service, connecting London, Bristol, and Newport—a testament to the country's commitment to embracing eco-friendly travel options.

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