Local authorities across Britain can now apply to receive up to £50 million to become the country’s first fully electric bus town, part of £170 million allocated last week to improve bus services and make them greener, easier, and more reliable.
The UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the funding in an attempt to set the “gold standard” in environmentally friendly public transport. The winning local area will receive up to £50 million to help pay for a brand-new fleet of electric buses.
The Department for Transport predicts that a town with 200 electric buses could save as much as 7,400 tonnes of CO2 each year – the equivalent of taking 3,700 diesel cars off the road.
“Buses carry more people than any other form of public transport in the UK, and with 200 electric buses able to offset 3,700 diesel cars, it is clear they have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
“But Britain’s first all-electric bus town is just the start. Helping deliver on our manifesto promise, this £170 million package will help us to create communities which are cleaner, easier to get around and more environmentally friendly, speeding up journeys and making them more reliable.
“By focusing on efficient and affordable transport, we will make greener journeys the natural choice.”
The larger £170 million allocated by the Department for Transport includes £20 million to encourage the development and trial of on-demand ride-sharing bus services in rural and suburban areas, and a further £30 million between 2020 and 2021 to help local authorities improve current bus services or restore lost services.
According to the BBC an “Uber-style bus service already operates in Oxford and Liverpool”, with the ArrivaClick service in Liverpool and the PickMeUp service in Oxford allowing passengers to help determine the route by entering their chosen pick-up and drop-off destinations.
Importantly, the Oxford Bus Company recently warned that its PickMeUp service “may end” unless it manages to find additional funding – which now may be available to it through the Government’s £30 million allocated for just such a purpose.
Even then, however, and despite having made 250,000 journeys since the service was launched in June of 2018, the Oxford Bus Company warns that “it is still challenging to operate on a fully commercial basis” making the Government’s financial support invaluable.
British bus passengers will also benefit from new low-fare, high-frequency Superbus networks intended to increase the frequency of services by investing in bus lanes and other priority measures in local areas.
The first area to see the introduction of a Superbus network is the southwestern county of Cornwall next year, which will be integrated with the county’s main railway line helping to also increase train frequency and help connect people with inter-county jobs, education, and family.