Green Bus Fund awards £12m for low-carbon buses

One of the Stagecoach biomethane buses funded by the scheme

Around 213 new low-carbon buses are expected to roll out across the UK following a total of £12 million worth of grants being awarded to bus companies and local authorities.

On Monday (27 May), the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that it had awarded £12 million of funding from the fourth phase of the Green Bus Fund to eight bus companies and four local authorities. The remaining £8 million left in this phase will be announced to winning bidders ‘in due course’.

The Green Bus Fund aims to cut greenhouse gas emission levels and encourage bus operators and local councils to make the switch to more environmentally-friendly buses. It is hoped that by the time the fourth and final round is complete, the entire £87 million fund will have delivered more than 1200 new low carbon buses in England, saving around 28,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

As part of the fund, the government is paying ‘up to half the cost difference between low carbon diesel-hybrid and biomethane gas buses and their standard diesel equivalent’.

Speaking on Monday, Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Buses are an essential part of people’s day-to-day lives up and down the country and are a key tool for enabling economic growth. At the same time, we want this growth to be green, which is why we are investing in these brand new low carbon buses.

“The last three rounds of the Green Bus Fund have shown that bus operators and local authorities are keen to invest in environmentally friendly technology, and it is encouraging to see this strong interest in ultra low emission vehicles continuing through the fourth round of the fund.

“I’m glad these new technologies are breaking through into the mainstream. This further strengthens the case for operators in the UK to invest in ultra low emission technologies and achieve a step change in cutting carbon.”

Winning bids

Following a three-month bidding process, the fourth round has so far seen 14 bids approved for funding; eight bus operators received £4.1 million, with a further £7.5 million split between four local authorities.

According to DfT, the successful bidders were:

  • City of York Council - two fully-electric single-decker buses;
  • Courtney Coaches – two diesel-hybrid double-decker buses;
  • First Berkshire – five diesel-hybrid single-decker buses;
  • First York – six fully-electric single-decker buses;
  • Nottingham City Council – 15 fully-electric single-decker buses;
  • Reading Transport Limited – 14 biomethane gas single-decker buses;
  • Selwyns Travel Limited – six diesel-hybrid single-decker buses;
  • Stagecoach Manchester – 38 diesel-hybrid double-decker buses;
  • Stagecoach North East – 17 biomethane gas single-decker buses;
  • Transport for Greater Manchester – three fully-electric and 10 diesel-hybrid single-decker buses;
  • Transport for London – four fully-electric single-decker and 90 diesel-hybrid double-decker buses; and
  • Yorkshire Coastliner Limited – one fully-electric single-decker bus

‘Europe’s largest fleet of green buses’

Transport for London (TfL) has announced that it won a £5 million grant from the Green Bus Fund and will be using most of the money to purchase 90 hybrid buses – with £360,000 being spent on four electric buses – expanding what TfL describes as ‘Europe’s largest fleet of green buses’.

This adds to TfL’s previous grants through the Green Bus Fund, after it received £5 million in 2009, £8 million in 2010 and £5 million in both 2011 and 2012.

Mike Weston, London Buses Operations Director, said: “London buses may be red on the outside but they are increasingly green on the inside. The capital is leading the way on the introduction and operation of green buses and this has been recognised again this year with further funding from the Green Bus Fund.

“We will continue to increase our hybrid bus fleet and will seek, where possible, to trial exciting developments in zero emission electric technology.”  

Expanding hybrid bus fleet

TfL claims that by 2016 there will be more than 1,700 hybrid buses in use in London, comprising 20 per cent of the total bus fleet of 8,500 vehicles.

Around 600 of the hybrid buses will be ‘New Bus for London’ vehicles, which TfL describes as ‘the greenest diesel electric hybrid bus in the world’. It claims that a recent emissions test found that a ‘New Bus for London’ vehicle emitted a quarter of the nitrous oxide and particulate matter of a fleet-average hybrid bus and 20 per cent less carbon dioxide.

The remaining 1,100 buses are ‘cleaner, quieter and more efficient than their conventional diesel-powered counterparts’, according to TfL.

Existing schemes in London

The news forms part of London’s increasing efforts to tackle climate change in the capial, and follows the announcement of two initiatives from London Mayor Boris Johnson: the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and the Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED).

The ULEZ will aim to ensure that by 2020 all buses in central London will be hybrid, with zero emission taxis, low emission options for freight and more electric cars also available.

Johnson commented on this proposal, stating: “My vision is a central zone where almost all the vehicles running during working hours are either zero or low emission. This would deliver incredible benefits in air quality and stimulate the delivery and mass use of low emission technology.”

The ULED comprises a discount on the London Congestion Charge for vehicles that are either pure electric or emit 75 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g/km) or less and meet the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality. Those vehicles that meet these criteria could pay no Congestion Charge at all.

Read more about the Green Bus Fund.