UK government awards new funding for low-emission buses

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As part of its continuing long-term aim of reducing vehicle emissions and improving air quality, the UK government has announced additional funding for the introduction of over 300 new low-emission buses across England.

UK Transport Minister Andrew Jones has confirmed that bus passengers will benefit from cleaner, greener journeys, due to £30m (US$39.2m) of new government funding. Bus operators and local authorities across England have been awarded a share of the funding to buy low-emission buses and install charge points and other infrastructure. In total, the 13 successful bidders will be able to add 326 buses, including electric, hybrid, hydrogen and biomethane buses, to their fleets, and install more than £7m (US$9.1m) worth of infrastructure.

Among the winning bidders are:

• Sheffield City Region, which has been awarded £1.3m (US$1.7m) for 44 buses fitted with hybrid technology;

• West Midlands Travel, which has been awarded more than £3m (US$3.9m) to fund 10 hybrid and 19 fully electric buses, and install electric charging facilities;

• Birmingham City Council and Transport for London (TfL), which have jointly won £2.8m (US$3.6m) for 42 state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell buses;

• TfL, which has also been given an additional £4.6m (US$6m) for electric buses;

• Merseytravel, which has received £4.9m (US$6.4m) for a total of 72 biomethane, hybrid or electric buses and associated infrastructure;

• Nottingham City Transport, which has received £4.4m (US$5.7m) for 53 biomethane buses and infrastructure.

Low-emission buses produce at least 15% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the average modern diesel bus, but they typically cost significantly more. The funding will cover up to 90% of the difference in cost between a new bus and its diesel equivalent, as well as up to 75% of the cost of infrastructure. The low-emission bus scheme builds on the Green Bus Fund, which saw £89m (US$116.4m) of government funding put more than 1,200 green buses on England’s roads, representing 4% of buses in service. The government has also invested more than £26m (US$34m) since 2013 to retrofit more than 2,000 buses in pollution hotspots with low-emission technology.

The government’s support for low-emission buses is one part of a £600m (US$785m) package of measures from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) by 2020, which also includes £400m (US$523m) of guaranteed money for individual plug-in car grants, investment in ultra-low emission taxis, and research and development funding for innovative technology, such as lighter vehicles and better car batteries.

During a visit to Sheffield, one of the cities to gain from the extra funding, Jones said, “My message is clear: greener buses are good for passengers and good for British business. Low emission buses have already proved to be a real success across the country. They are cost efficient, good for the environment, and there are wider benefits. We have provided more than £2bn (US$2.6bn) of funding to greener transport schemes since 2011, and by supporting this technology the government is ensuring the UK is driving innovation and investment up and down the country.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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