UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched a £120-million scheme to enable local transport authorities to roll out zero-emission buses. The funding is being made available through the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme. The funding will deliver up to 500 zero-emission buses, supporting the government’s wider commitment to introduce 4,000 zero-emission buses.
The funding comes from the wider £3-billion fund announced by the government to improve bus services in a national bus strategy published on 15 March.
To ensure funding from the new zero-emission-bus fund is used quickly to help provide British bus manufacturers with an injection of orders, the government is calling on consortia of local transport authorities, energy companies, bus operators and manufacturers to come together to work up strong cases for funding. This will help make sure that buses are built, bought and being driven on our roads efficiently to the benefit of local economies and communities.
Bidders will have until 21 May 2021 to submit expressions of interest for a fast-track process that will allow local transport authorities with well-developed proposals to move quickly in their bid to secure funding.
However, the government has said it wants all local authorities to have the opportunity to submit bids and, therefore, those who need more time to develop their proposals will have until 25 June 2021 to submit expressions of interest.
The national bus strategy contains several pledges to improve the environmental friendliness of the country’s bus sector. This includes a consultation on the end date for sales of diesel buses, which was launched alongside the strategy.
The UK government has also announced more than £30 million of funding to support pioneering research into battery technology, the electric vehicle supply chain and hydrogen vehicles.
Twenty-two studies will receive a share of £9.4 million, including:
proposals to build a plant in Cornwall that will extract lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries
a plant to build specialised magnets for electric vehicle motors in Cheshire
lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans in Loughborough