First Bus has ordered 117 more battery-electric vehicles from Wrightbus for four fleets in England. It comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) allocated £25.3 million of extra funding to existing successful Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) bids in Hampshire and Portsmouth, Norfolk, West Yorkshire, and York.
First will provide £35 million of investment to go with the additional ZEBRA money. The 117 buses are in addition to 193 such examples already ordered by First from the Ballymena manufacturer. The further government funding, and the buses above existing ZEBRA-related procurement it will go towards, is split across bids by the following local authorities:
- City of York Council: £1.9 million towards nine StreetDeck Electroliner double-deckers for First York
- Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council: £6.2 million towards 28 GB Kite Electroliner single-deckers to operate from First Hampshire and Dorset’s Hoeford depot
- Norfolk County Council: £11.5 million towards 55 StreetDeck Electroliners for First Eastern Counties in Norwich
- West Yorkshire Combined Authority: £5.7 million towards 25 StreetDeck Electroliners for First West Yorkshire’s Bramley depot in Leeds.
The order takes to 310 the number of battery-electric buses due from Wrightbus for First Bus. It will enable the group’s operation in York and one of its depots in Norwich to become fully battery-electric by March 2024, which is the timeframe for completion of all ZEBRA work involving First Bus.
Speaking about the additional commitment, First Bus Managing Director Janette Bell says: “We are delighted to be accelerating investment in the electrification of our fleet and infrastructure, supported by co-funding from DfT.
“As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the government’s ambitions for a net zero carbon transport system. We are rapidly transforming our business with zero-emission bus fleets, and we will continue to work closely with central and local government across the UK to deliver our decarbonisation plans.”
Adds Under-Secretary of State for Transport Richard Holden: “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and these British built zero-emission buses will support hundreds of high-quality manufacturing jobs in Northern Ireland, grow our economy and help to clear up the air in towns and cities across the country.
“We are providing an additional £25.3 million to roll out 117 new buses to provide residents in Yorkshire, Norfolk and Portsmouth with better, cleaner and quieter journeys, as we step up a gear to reach net zero faster and level up transport across the country.”
DfT says that the further money takes to 1,395 the total number of buses part-funded thus far by almost £300 million from ZEBRA.
However, those figures include a 56-bus project in Milton Keynes that was abandoned. It is understood that the £16.6 million allocated to Milton Keynes has been offered to other successful ZEBRA bidders, with a decision on the recipient(s) said to be due around now.