Oxford and Coventry are set to become the first UK cities to run their bus fleets entirely on electric energy through a Department for Transport competition to improve air quality and reduce emissions across England.
The proposals could see both cities receive a £50 million (US$68 million) injection to replace fleets and install new infrastructure, such as charging stations and electric grid updates.
Speaking on the announcement, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “Turning all of Coventry’s bus fleet electric is not only a major boost to public transport in the city, but it will also help tackle the climate emergency we face both here in the West Midlands and the wider UK.”
The £50 million schemes will be supported by a further £75 million worth of investment from local bus operators into the new electric buses.
In total, 19 regions applied for the competition, with applicants required to demonstrate buy-in from stakeholders in their local areas; outline existing plans to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality; and show how their plans would tackle an existing air quality problem.
Oxfordshire County Council Leader, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: “Oxfordshire’s bid comes at a time when our council is determined to take concerted climate action to cut vehicle air pollution and expand the provision of bus services with our Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford plans.
“This council is committed to offering our residents a clean and environmentally sustainable future through a series of steps including through better public transport.”
In February 2020, the UK government announced £5 billion in funding for a new ‘golden era’ of bus and active travel.
The five-year package of investment plans to boost bus services by focusing on a range of priorities, including:
- Higher-frequency services, including evenings and weekends, to make it easier and less restrictive for people to get around at any time of day
- More ‘turn up and go’ routes where, thanks to higher frequency, people won’t have to rely on timetables to plan journeys
- New priority schemes to make routes more efficient, so that buses avoid congested routes and can speed passengers through traffic
- More affordable, simpler fares
- At least 4,000 new zero-emission buses
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As we build back greener from COVID-19, we can provide people with more environmentally friendly transport and cleaner air.”
“Coventry and Oxford could soon be at the forefront of our plans for a new era of bus services, helping us develop the green transport network of the future and support jobs right here in the UK.”
Image: Aubrey (Flickr)