The Association of Local Bus Managers (ALBUM) has asked the government not to set an end date for the sale of new non-zero-emission buses in the UK until more clarity exists around the optimum zero-emission technology pathway for the sector.
ALBUM included the call in its submission to a consultation on that potential date. While the Association acknowledges the importance of reducing transport emissions, it cautions that many SMEs in the bus sector cannot yet find zero-emission technology that suits the longer and more rural routes, and the smaller depots, that are commonplace in that segment.
The government has proposed that the end date for the sale of new non-zero-emission bus models will be by 2032 “at the very latest,” but its consultation document lays down that such a step could be introduced as early as 2025.
A further key part of ALBUM’s consultation response concerns funding. It notes that the purchase and infrastructure costs of zero-emission buses “mean that financial support from central and local government is vital if we are to avoid higher fares or reductions in services, especially in the smaller urban and rural areas in which many ALBUM members operate.”
ALBUM adds that modal shift “is the real prize” in the move towards decarbonisation, but the body has advised ministers in its consultation response that the bus industry’s current focus is on continuing to rebuild patronage.
Says ALBUM Policy Advisor Tony Depledge: “We are keen to work with the government to scope the challenges and to identify solutions that will benefit the communities that we serve.
“The transition to a low- and zero-carbon future brings many financial, operational and technical challenges. Central and local government and bus operators all have their part to play in tackling climate change while rebuilding and growing the networks that will make buses the transport mode of choice across the country.”
ALBUM’s submission highlighting of the current lack of clarity over technology and infrastructure, and the challenges specific to SMEs in making the shift to zero-emission, is concurrent with similar points raised by the Confederation of Passenger Transport in its response.
The consultation closed on 21 May. A summary of responses and the next steps will be published by the government within three months of that date.
Read the consultation documents here.