Buses on route to low carbon emissions, but more needs to be done - report03 July 2014

Government funding schemes have been vital to the expansion of the low carbon emission bus (LCEB) market, but more incentives are needed to speed adoption of the latest technology.

That's among key findings of a report from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), which interviewed industry experts about the mechanisms driving growth in this industry.

The government's Green Bus Fund and enhancements to the Bus Service Operators Grant have been critical, but doubts about future support are hindering progress, reveals the report.

Several barriers are slowing further take up of LCEBs, with one of the main issues being higher capital cost.

The report recommends that incentives for both the capital and running costs for LCEBs should be revised to encourage further market growth.

A graduated scale incentive scheme related to carbon savings is proposed, which would help to avoid any stifling of ambition to achieve greater reductions than the 30% threshold for well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions that currently define a low carbon bus.

Industry, the report found, favour an incentive based on running costs which stays with a vehicle for its life – this would also support the second-hand market for LCEBs, given the typically long service life of bus fleets.

The study further recommends that incentives for a gas and electric charging infrastructure should be considered.

Transport minister Baroness Kramer welcomed the report, saying it "will help to inform our proposals for the new low emission bus fund."

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) announced in April 2014 that a further £30m is to be allocated to fund low-emission buses in the new funding framework for 2015 and beyond. Details of the scheme are expected to be finalised later this year.

The LowCVP is holding a Low Carbon Bus Symposium early next year to bring together bus operators, manufacturers and local authorities to share experience in the performance, environmental and economic benefits of LCEB.

Laura Cork

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Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership

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