Chris Ames 08 September 2023

‘Up to’ £129m announced in zero emission bus boost

 ‘Up to’ £129m announced in zero emission bus boost image
Image: Cal F /

The transport secretary has announced ‘up to’ £129m to help local transport authorities introduce hundreds more zero emission buses, with a pledge that the first £25m will be prioritised for rural communities.

Mark Harper said the Government had reached its initial target of ‘funding’ at least 4,000 zero emission buses. However, delays in procurement mean that only a fraction of these buses are on the road.

The Department for Transport (DfT) did not state how many buses, the new cash would fund. Previous funding rounds have cost around £200,000 per bus, suggesting that the new cash could fund around 650.

It said the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) 2 scheme is now open for bids from all local authorities in England (outside London), with applications to be prioritised from those that did not receive funding in the previous funding rounds.

Officials said the second phase of the ZEBRA scheme builds on the success of the first round of funding, through which 1,300 ZEBs were funded – at a a cost of around £270m.

The Government’s claim to have has met its initial target of funding 4,000 ZEBs controversially includes buses funded by devolved national administrations and the Greater London Authority in its totals.

Officials added that the latest funding announcement brings the country ‘closer to a fully decarbonised fleet’.

When the policy was launched in 2020, the DfT estimated that the 4,000 new buses represented around at tenth of the national fleet.

Mr Harper said: ‘Todays’ funding for more zero emission buses will help decarbonise public transport and grow the economy by keeping our communities connected.

‘We have already reached our initial target of funding at least 4,000 zero emission buses and this additional funding will improve journeys for even more passengers, reaching those in the most remote areas.’

Mr Harper also announced the launch of a Net Zero Transport for a Resilient Future Hub, backed by £10m from the Department for Transport, National Highways, HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Newcastle University, Heriot-Watt University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Glasgow have been awarded the cash to establish the hub, where they will develop ‘innovative ideas’ to ensure future transport infrastructure is low-carbon and resilient.

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