The Zero Emission Buses Regional Area scheme has awarded 12 local transport authorities with a portion of £198.3 million to purchase zero-emission buses, which will equate to 943 alternative power buses being rolled-out on England’s roads.

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Millions of people across England will be able to make greener, cleaner journeys as almost 1,000 green buses are rolled out with the backing of nearly £200 million in government funding. Twelve areas across the country, from Greater Manchester to Portsmouth, will receive grants from the multimillion-pound package to deliver electric or hydrogen powered buses, as well as charging or fuelling infrastructure, to their region.

The funding comes from the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which was launched in 2021 to allow local transport authorities to bid for funding to purchase zero emission buses. The £198.3 million, which was announced on 26 March 2022, will provide 943 buses. It builds on almost:

  • £71 million announced in 2021 to support up to 335 new zero-emission buses in five areas
  • A further £50 million funding for the UK’s first All Electric Bus City, Coventry, supporting up to 300 buses
  • One hundred buses funded by previous funding schemes.

The first orders have already been placed. Hundreds more zero-emission buses have been funded in London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It means that the government remains on track to deliver its commitment to fund a total of 4,000 zero-emission buses across the country – which the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, promised in 2020 to “drive forward the UK’s progress on its net zero ambitions” and to “build and rebuild those vital connections to every part of the UK”.

The UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “I will level up and clean up our transport network. That’s why I’ve announced hundreds of millions of pounds to roll out zero-emission buses nationwide. Not only will this improve the experience of passengers, but it will help to support our mission to fund 4,000 of these cleaner buses, reach net zero emissions by 2050 and build back greener. Today’s announcement is part of our National Bus Strategy, which will introduce lower fares, helping to drive down the cost of public transport even further for passengers.”

The move is expected to remove over 57,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from the country’s air, as well as 22 tonnes of nitrogen oxides on average each year, as government continues to go further and faster to achieve net zero, clean up the transport network and build back greener.

It is also part of the UK government’s wider £3 billion National Bus Strategy to significantly improve bus services, with new priority lanes, lower and simpler fares, more integrated ticketing and higher frequencies.

Jobs in the bus manufacturing industry – based largely in Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England – will be supported as a result of the move. Zero-emission buses are also cheaper to run, improving the economics for bus operators.

The areas whose business cases were approved and will be receiving ZEBRA scheme funding are:

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

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach’s Chief Executive, said: “We welcome today’s announcement, which will complement the significant investment and initiatives by operators as we work together to transition to a zero-emission bus fleet and help the country to achieve its net zero ambitions. 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. Britain’s buses have an exciting future ahead, helping to decarbonise the country, as well as driving economic recovery and levelling up our communities.”

Government funding of Transport for London (TfL) has supported the introduction of 300 zero-emission buses in London. Around 600 zero-emission buses have been funded in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as a result of the block grant to the devolved administrations.

Industry responses to the ZEBRA scheme funding

Greater Manchester

In a major boost to Greater Manchester’s ambitions to deliver an integrated transport network, the Bee Network, and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2038, £36.9 million in funding has been secured via the ZEBRA scheme to introduce 170 green buses to the region.

Greater Manchester has secured the funding after a joint bid to the Department for Transport submitted by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Stockport Council and Stagecoach Group PLC.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This is a significant boost to our ambitions for a fairer, greener bus system. Zero-emission buses play a critical part in our drive to help more people travel sustainably. We welcome the government’s backing, and we look forward to further support as we continue to build an integrated and affordable public transport system.”


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