A cross-party group of MPs that have bus manufacturing sites within their constituencies have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking that the £3bn he committed in February to funding investment in “at least 4,000 new zero-emission buses” is brought forward as quickly as possible.

Robert Goodwill and John McNally each have Alexander Dennis sites in their constituencies, and Ian Paisley, who is the local MP for Wrightbus, say that unlocking the funding will be “a critical, potentially life-saving boost for the industry,” and one that will sustain and create thousands of jobs.

“Buses are a vital pillar of local communities across the UK, particularly in rural and deprived areas,” the three MPs explain in their letter.

“However, with regular travel significantly reduced and social distancing measures curtailing capacity, the impact of coronavirus COVID-19 threatens the future of the UK’s bus network. At worst, the current environment could put the industry at risk entirely and confront the government with the choice between nationalisation or seeing thousands of routes cut and jobs lost at manufacturing sites in our constituencies.”

The MPs have called on the government to include both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell-electric models in its zero-emission bus funding plans. They are asking for a “technology neutral” approach and a fair split between the two power sources.

“As Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has noted, all three [of the largest] UK bus manufacturers make a hydrogen bus. We have stolen a march over international competitors in that technology,” the MPs continue.

“Urgent action to support growth in the production of hydrogen buses, such as via 2,000 UK-made examples as part of the 4,000 [zero-emission buses] that you have pledged, will allow costs to decrease and export potential to increase, creating more jobs and economic growth.”