The Scottish Government has awarded over £62m towards the purchase of 276 battery-electric buses and their associated infrastructure via the first round of the Scottish Zero Emission Bus (ScotZEB) challenge fund.
Representing an increase on the £50m first allocated, it is the largest investment made thus far in Scotland to decarbonise bus fleets and follows previous funding awards via other mechanisms, including the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. While the manufacturer break-down of the buses supported via the initial phase of ScotZEB has not yet been confirmed, 137 will be assembled by Alexander Dennis at its Falkirk plant.
The money will go towards vehicles in a variety of sizes, from minibuses to double-deckers. In order of funding award, the successful bids are from:
- First Aberdeen and First Glasgow: £18.6m for 74 buses
- McGill’s Buses: £9.09m for 41
- Stagecoach West Scotland: £8.03m for 39
- Stagecoach East Scotland: £7.33m for 32
- Stagecoach in the Highlands: £5.83m for 25
- Ember Core: £5.56m for 26
- Stagecoach Bluebird: £3.07m for 13
- West Coast Motors: £2.41m for 10
- Dumfries and Galloway Council: £634,000 for four
- Stirling Council: £595,000 for three
- Shuttle Buses: £486,000 for five
- Houston’s Coaches: £368,000 for four.
In some cases, the associated charging infrastructure involved will support a greater number of vehicles than the totals shown above.
Says Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth: “We want more people to choose to travel by bus now and in the future, and to do so knowing that local buses are contributing to our climate change ambitions. ScotZEB is successfully decarbonising Scotland’s bus fleet faster than ever before and making a significant contribution to our Mission Zero ambition for transport.
“Supporting a just transition to a net zero economy is central to the ScotZEB approach. Through this round we are supporting smaller bus operators and rural service providers, whom I am pleased are equally keen to step up and help to tackle the climate emergency.”
Adds Houston’s Coaches Director William Houston: “Here at Houston’s we want to do our part to respond to the climate emergency and move to a zero-emission fleet. As a smaller local operator, it has been difficult for us to compete with larger operators and attract financial support to help make the switch.
“The ScotZEB programme has helped us to compete and enabled Houston’s to invest in new zero-emission buses. I am delighted that our customers will soon benefit from the modern conveniences of four new battery-electric buses, which at the same time will improve air quality and help to protect our environment.”
Updated guidance – which shows that the closing date for bid submissions via the first round of ScotZEB was extended by over three weeks from the original date – has reaffirmed that a second round is expected to open for applications in April with lower subsidy rates than in the first phase. Former Transport Minister Graeme Day previously said that the second round was expected to “offer a larger pot of funding.”