Coalition calls on government to speed up zero-emission bus rollout

Wrightbus StreetDeck Electroliner

Signatories of a letter sent to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke have called on the government to use the forthcoming spending review to set out a road map to accelerate the introduction of zero-emission buses and infrastructure.

Operators, manufacturers, workers and local authorities are among those warning that the Prime Minister’s targets for the introduction of 4,000 zero-emission buses by February 2025 risks being missed without an accelerated timetable and better coordinated funding.

Government funding has so far supported the delivery of 900 buses.

“Operators are committed to transitioning to zero-emission fleets, but this requires long-term planning, especially around infrastructure requirements,” comments Confederation of Passenger Transport Chief Executive Graham Vidler. “By setting out a fully funded, long-term plan, the government will give all those involved the confidence to invest, meaning we can make progress towards the shared goal of decarbonising fleets as cost effectively as possible.

“Without it, the industry and wider supply chain has to react to short term uncoordinated funding announcements risking missed targets, increased costs and ultimately a bigger bill for taxpayers.”

Adds fellow signatory and Urban Transport Group Director Jonathan Bray: “Continuing to fund zero-emission buses via sporadic funding pots which local authorities have to waste time and resources competing for is yesterday’s solution to an urgent problem of today.

“Instead, we need a coordinated and funded plan (which encompasses both the vehicles and the supporting green energy infrastructure) to give the decarbonisation of the bus fleet the same priority that the government is giving to decarbonising cars.”

Modal shift as a means to deliver on wider climate change goals was also highlighted.  “Measures such as a pro public transport message and investment in speeding up bus journeys will help government funding go further as operators see increases in fare revenue,” adds Mr Vidler. “By making bus travel more attractive we will also help reduce the number of cars on our road, which is crucial if we want to meet our challenging climate change targets.”

Signatories to the letter include: Jonathan Bray; Graham Vidler; President and Managing Director of Alexander Dennis Paul Davies; Wrightbus Chief Executive Buta Atwal; Switch Mobility Commercial Director Robert Drewery; and Assistant General Secretary Manufacturing of Unite the Union Steve Turner.