Councils and bus companies in England and Wales have been given £48m to pay for low carbon buses and infrastructure.
Most are electric, though Brighton and Hove Buses has been awarded £4.4m for 20 hydrogen buses and associated infrastructure. Nottingham City Transport has been awarded £1.13m to pay for biomethane infrastructure.
The funding will be welcomed by clean air campaigners and those calling for efforts to reduce emissions from transport to concentrate on communal means of travel, such as buses, trains and taxis – both in terms of improving low carbon infrastructure, and the fundamental services, to reduce the overall number of private vehicles on the road.
It follows the announcement of a further £6m to help councils pay for electric taxis and charging infrastructure, plus £14m for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and associated infrastructure.
Grants for electric buses and infrastructure took the lion’s share of the money. In most cases, the money for the buses outweighed grants for charging infrastructure. However, just over half of TfL’s £6.96m grant to put 63 new electric buses on the road is for the infrastructure itself.
Meanwhile Newport Transport has been awarded almost £1m to put just one electric bus on the road – with the infrastructure grant accounting for £787k of the total awarded funding.
While some transport firms may install additional infrastructure to help ensure optimal charging and range, such as onsite generation and storage, as well as novel charging methodologies, those in city centres may find paying for the necessary grid upgrades adds significant cost.
According to some industry commentators, it is possible that some transport operators seeking to electrify their entire fleet may find it cheaper to move depots to where there is capacity, rather than bring capacity to their sites.
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