Successful bid for £8m ‘green’ bus funding is just the ticket

£8.1 million of Government funding will help buy electric buses and chargers, cutting carbon emissions

Close up of a bus accompanied by the 'funded by UK government' logo

Greener, cleaner journeys on key bus routes in Leicestershire will now be in the offing following a successful county council and bus operators’ bid for Government funding.

The £8.1m slice of a £129m Government cash pot will help buy electric buses and chargers, cutting carbon emissions.

Bus operators Kinchbus and Arriva have worked with the county council on the proposal, emphasising the role of the Leicestershire Enhanced Bus Partnership, which fosters stronger links between the local authority and bus operators.

The emission-free buses will run on several routes focused on Loughborough, including Kinchbus 2, 5, 9, 11, 12, sprint and the campus shuttle as well as Arriva’s 127 service to Shepshed and Leicester.   Elsewhere, similar buses would also feature on Arriva routes 5/5A to Melton Mowbray.

Buses and coaches already have the lowest carbon footprint per passenger of any form of motorised transport, but electric buses have no emissions at all.

Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, county council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We’re committed to providing more environmentally friendly greener bus services and this successful bid will help us towards achieving that goal. Delivering cleaner transport is a key priority and good air quality is hugely important to everyone.”

The bid for zero-emission bus funding (ZEBRA 2) is a key strand of the county council’s approach to passenger transport over the next 12 months.

Tom Morgan, Managing Director at Kinchbus, said: “This successful bid marks significant investment in buses within the East Midlands and specifically in Leicestershire, reiterating our commitment to high quality, customer-focused and sustainable public transport within the community we serve.

“It will accelerate our decarbonisation strategy, with buses at the heart of it, and result in cleaner air for everyone.”

Toby France, Head of Commercial at Arriva, said: “This project will help unlock further significant investment in Leicestershire’s buses, and builds on our recent investment in 24 electric double-decker buses at our Thurmaston depot.

“Our ultra-low emission Euro VI diesel vehicles are already the most environmentally friendly way to travel across Leicestershire, reducing congestion in our town centres. 

“The introduction of further emission-free electric vehicles to our fleet will continue to support the reduction in our customers’ carbon footprint.”

The ZEBRA 2 funding follows a £7.63m funding award to the county council, combining Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus (BSIP+) and Network North funding - Network North being the £36bn transport plan which replaces HS2 in the north.

Now there’s more funding available, we’re working flat out to review our overall strategy, with a focus on strengthening and stabilising the commercial network and   reviewing our supported bus service network and how we can more cost effectively enhance access to opportunities especially for our more rural communities.

This will include looking at new app based and flexible demand responsive transport solutions for areas of low bus usage. These are bookable services of smaller vehicles which respond to demand and can be a much more effective and flexible way of providing a public transport in a rural community.

However, while there are indications that the funding will continue for a number of years, nothing is confirmed so we have to proceed carefully as we also face significant financial challenges across all areas of the council, but in the short term, this is good news for Leicestershire’s public transport network.

Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, county council cabinet member for highways and transport

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