The Government has launched a £120m fund scheme to help local transport authorities in England roll out zero-emission buses.
Officials said the cash from the zero-emission-buses regional area (ZEBRA) scheme, will deliver up to 500 buses, ‘supporting the Government’s wider commitment to introduce 4,000 zero-emission buses’.
It comes under £3bn pledged under the National Bus Strategy, published earlier this month.
The Department for Transport said that to ensure the cash is used quickly, it is calling on consortia of local transport authorities, energy companies, bus operators and manufacturers to come together to work up strong cases for funding.
Bidders will have until 21 May to submit expressions of interest for a fast-track process that will allow local transport authorities with well-developed proposals to move quickly in their bid to secure funding.
However, those who need more time to develop their proposals will have until 25 June to submit expressions of interest.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘The launch of the scheme today means we’re giving businesses and local authorities the tools to help deliver the 4,000 zero-emission buses we said we would introduce, which will dramatically improve air quality in towns and cities across the country, helping us achieve our net-zero ambitions.’
Silviya Barrett from the Campaign for Better Transport said: ‘Zero-emission buses are great news all round. As well as addressing climate change and air pollution, this funding will boost the bus manufacturing sector and give more passengers the best modern buses.
‘We’re glad that the Government has appreciated the need to speed up the transition to zero-emission buses.’
Alison Edwards, head of policy at the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: 'Buses are already amongst the greenest vehicles on our roads contributing only 3% of the UK transport sector’s carbon emissions. To ensure we are on track to deliver net zero by 2050 it is vital that more people travel by bus.
'This will mean putting buses at the heart of transport networks with measures to improve journeys times at the core of new partnerships with local authorities.'
Last week the Scottish Government awarded £40.5m through a second round of the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, which it said was the largest investment yet through the programme and would support operators in replacing 215 old diesel buses with new battery-electric models.
Scottish Government transport secretary Michael Matheson said: ‘Ensuring a just and fair transition to a net-zero economy is a truly national endeavour and I’m delighted that the Scottish Government’s investment is matched by private investment from bus operators and the finance sector.’