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Transport charity calls for further support to meet zero-emission buses target

23 October 2021

Campaign for Better Transport is calling for more to be done to deliver a zero-emission bus fleet as figures reveal only a tiny proportion of buses on the road are currently electric.

Of the 38,000 buses nationally, only 12 per cent of the fleet are hybrid and only two per cent (four per cent in London and one per cent in the rest of England) zero emission according to the latest figures.

The transport charity is warning that without further government support, its ambition to deliver 4,000 zero-emission buses by 2025, as well as plans to clean up the rest of the 38,000 strong bus fleet, are likely to be missed.

It is calling for a number of measures to help speed up the transition to zero emissions including more incentives for local authorities and a government-led campaign to boost bus passenger numbers along with a long-term funding plan. It also wants local authorities to adopt more bus friendly policies.

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Buses are already one of the greenest forms of transport – contributing only three per cent of the UK’s domestic transport emissions – and accelerating the roll-out of zero-emission buses will drive further improvements to air quality and carbon emissions in our towns, cities and rural areas. But it’s clear from our work with bus operators, local authorities, utility companies and others involved in providing bus services that we are not currently on target to deliver nearly enough zero-emission buses anywhere near fast enough. Government must step in to offer more support to the industry in the long term and do more to boost passenger number in the short term.”

The Go-Ahead Group, the UK’s largest operator of electric buses, is urging local authorities to introduce revenue-raising schemes that would both encourage a shift to public transport and help fund decarbonisation.

Martin Dean, Managing Director Business Development, Go-Ahead, said; "Local authorities must find local solutions to protect residents from congestion and pollution, using a range of measures such as congestion charging and workplace parking levies. These can speed up buses, making them more attractive to use, whilst also creating more space for walking and cycling. The revenue from such schemes can also help fund the transition to zero emission."

Since the Government’s commitment in February 2020 to deliver 4,000 zero-emission buses, only around 50-100 are on the road. Together with the ZEBRA and All Electric Bus Town schemes, government funding for up to 900 has so far been made available. This leaves the question of how the remaining 3,100 of the Government’s commitment will be delivered, and when the remaining 34,000 buses on the roads will shift to zero emission.

To ensure these crucial targets are met, Campaign for Better is calling on the Government to:

  • Set out a clear timeline and a long-term funding plan for zero-emission bus delivery to give industry confidence to invest
  • Explore the role of innovative funding mechanisms and guaranteeing residual value in leasing schemes
  • Lead a communications campaign alongside industry to increase public transport use post-pandemic
  • Incentivise local authorities to explore innovative ways to increase bus use and provide additional revenue streams, including measures to discourage car use
  • Provide detailed guidance, templates and standardised procurement frameworks and foster collaboration through the Bus Centre of Excellence.

ENDS

For further information please contact the press office on 07984 773 468 (calls only no texts) or

communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. The full report is available here.

2. Campaign for Better Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Summit and private roundtable was held in partnership with Transport for London and the Mayor of London. It brought together central government, local authority representatives from across the country, bus manufacturers, transport operators and energy providers to discuss how to speed up the introduction of zero emission buses across the country.

3.  In February 2020, the Government announced an ambition to deliver 4,000 zero emission buses (ZEBs) by February 2025, alongside funding to “transform” bus services across the country. This commitment was reiterated in Bus Back Better, the National Bus Strategy published in March 2021. It aims to incentivise the adoption of ZEBs and sets out government plans to consult on a date for ending the sale of new diesel buses. It is currently offering competitive funding for English regions to proceed on ZEBs, including: £120 million through the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme to support at least three areas to purchase up to 500 ZEBs and the infrastructure needed to support them, and £50 million awarded to Coventry to become the UK’s first All Electric Bus Town assisting with the introduction of up to 300 ZEBs and associated infrastructure.

4.  Of the 4,000 ZEBs committed, only around 50-100 are on the road.

5.  Together with the ZEBRA and All Electric Bus Town schemes, funding for up to 900 ZEBs has so far been made available.

6. Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. Campaign for Better Transport's vision is for all communities to have access to high quality, sustainable transport that meets their needs, improves quality of life and protects the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).