Zebras go rural with £143m electric bus cash


The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced the 25 English councils that will receive a share of £143m to help fund ‘up to’ 955 emission buses.

The funding comes from the second round of the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) programme.

The DfT said that thanks to the ZEBRA scheme, no other European country registered as many electric buses in 2023 as the UK, with zero emission buses accounting for almost half of all new large buses introduced last year.

The announcement follows over £270m to 16 local transport authorities and councils from the first round of ZEBRA funding, bringing the total government support to roll out zero emission buses to more than £413m.

The DfT said it has prioritised the first £40m for rural communities, many of which will get zero emission buses for the first time.

Gloucestershire CC leader Mark Hawthorne, Mr Harper and Cllr Robinson

Transport secretary Mark Harper, who is MP for the Forest of Dean, visited the Stagecoach West depot in Cheltenham to announce the funding.

He said: ‘As part of our plan to improve local transport across the country, we’re providing a further £143 million to improve journeys for bus passengers particularly in rural areas, with almost a thousand brand new, zero emission buses due to hit the road.’

Alison Edwards, director of policy and external relations at the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: ‘The transition to a zero emission bus fleet is a huge opportunity for Britain to lead the world in creating a modern zero emission bus network that offers a growing number of passengers one of the most sustainable forms of transport.’

The DfT said the cash would fund up to 955 new buses, based on the number for which successful councils bid.

Gloucestershire County Council was awarded £5.9m, which it said will fund up to 58 zero emission buses,

It worked with operators Stagecoach, Pulhams and Lydney Dial a Ride to submit a joint funding bid, which it said will unlock total investment into buses and infrastructure of more than £29m.

This includes contributions from the county council, Forest of Dean District Council, and ‘substantial’ private sector investment.

Philip Robinson, Gloucestershire CC cabinet member with responsibility for buses, said: ‘It’s exciting news that we will be introducing these buses to the network. It will encourage more people to use buses in a sustainable way that will help us meet our carbon emission targets.’

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