Government promises £25m for new zero emission buses to connect ‘rural communities’

The Government has promised to prioritise rural communities in its £129m roll out of hundreds of new zero-emission buses.

The Transport Secretary, Mark Harper MP (Con, Forest of Dean) has announced the additional funding to help local transport authorities improve services.  The aim is to ‘help grow the economy by connecting communities – helping people get to work or college while also providing a boost for UK manufacturing.’

To ensure rural communities are not left behind, the Government has prioritised the first £25 million for rural communities where building the infrastructure needed for the buses is more expensive.

The Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) 2 scheme is now open for bids from all local authorities in England (outside London) and the Department for Transport says applications from those that did not receive funding in the previous funding rounds will be prioritised.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:

“Todays’ funding for more zero emission buses will help decarbonise public transport and grow the economy by keeping our communities connected. We have already reached our initial target of funding at least 4,000 zero emission buses and this additional funding will improve journeys for even more passengers, reaching those in the most remote areas.”

Alison Edwards, Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Director of Policy, said:

“We welcome the Government’s announcement of further government funding for zero emission buses. Buses have a huge role to play in helping the UK meet its decarbonisation goals.

“We are pleased that the prioritisation of rural bus services in the bidding process recognises the challenges facing these operators. To help tackle these, CPT has established a Rural Zero Emission Bus Taskforce, which will seek to identify practical solutions that are required for rural areas.”

The announcement also included details of a new research hub, backed by £10 million in funding from the Department for Transport, National Highways, HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Newcastle University, Heriot-Watt University, University of Cambridge and University of Glasgow have been awarded the funding to establish the Net Zero Transport for a Resilient Future Hub, where they will develop innovative ideas to ensure future transport infrastructure is low-carbon and resilient.

Funding for the research hub will be used to develop new ways of modelling cities and towns, and understanding how vital structures such as bridges and rail lines can handle severe weather events such as flooding. The hub will work with local authorities and industry to identify practical opportunities to make it easier for people to travel with greater choice and less disruption.

Professor Phil Blythe CBE, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems and head of the Future Mobility Group, Newcastle University, said:

“We are delighted to be awarded the hub, which will be the national focus for research into how we decarbonise and make resilient our transport infrastructure.

“The hub will engage widely to bring together the leading academics from across the UK and their civic and industry partners so we can focus on understanding the underpinning science and engineering to enable us to tackle these real challenges and provide the models that will help us understand the impact and find the most appropriate solutions.”

Details of how to apply for the funding can be found here.


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