UK government launches Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme to reduce transport emissions

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As part of its long-term aim of improving air quality across the country, the UK government has announced a new Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme that is aimed at cutting transit vehicle emissions and ensuring cleaner and greener journeys.

Passengers across the country will benefit from a multi-million pound government investment that will help councils and bus companies put more environmentally friendly buses on the roads.

The new program will see local authorities and public transport operators in England and Wales bid for a share of a £48m (US$67.6m) fund, which they can use to buy hundreds of new ultra-low emission buses (ULEBs), as well as the infrastructure to support them. The initiative is part of the government’s commitment through its Industrial Strategy to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the transport sector.

The current funding comes as part of a wider £100m (US$140.8m) scheme announced in November 2016 to support low-emission buses (LEBs). The new scheme follows the success of the previous Low Emission Bus Scheme, which led to 13 organizations receiving more than £30m (US$42.2m) between them, which was enough to put more than 300 new low-emission buses on the road by 2019.

As part of its Industrial Strategy program, the government has announced that the UK will host a zero emission vehicle summit in the autumn that will examine the pathway to emissions-free road transport, and will discuss how the transport sector is going to have to change dramatically to cut down on harmful emissions.

Announcing the new funding, UK Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said, “We are doing more than ever before to reduce greenhouse gas pollution across all modes of transport, and we are committed to ensuring nearly all cars and vans are emissions-free at their tailpipes by 2050.

“In order to achieve this ambitious target, the transport sector is going to have to change dramatically over the next couple of decades – and buses are no exception. We are confident this scheme will encourage councils and operators to invest in these ultra-low emission vehicles, speeding up the full transition to a low emission bus fleet in England and Wales.”

Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, commented, “This announcement is a fantastic step in the UK’s fight against air pollution and we’re delighted that the government has recognized the important and vital role that buses play in helping to reduce harmful emissions.

“The cleanest diesel buses emit fewer emissions overall than the cleanest diesel cars, despite being able to carry 20 times more passengers. Buses are also the lifeblood of our communities, connecting families and getting people to work. This announcement sends a positive message that the government is serious about connecting the communities it serves and committed to putting the bus at the heart of the clean air solution. 

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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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