Councils win share of £20m to clean up buses16 February 2018

The government has announced 20 local authorities that have each won a share of £20 million as part of the next tranche from the Clean Bus Technology Fund.

The winners were announced on 8 February at the UK Bus Summit, in London, by transport minister Nusrat Ghani (pictured).

The fund was announced in 2017, when the first £20m was awarded to councils for use in 2017/18, and the latest announcement means more than 2,700 buses will be retrofitted with cleaner technologies by 2020.

Ghani said the funding will help the bus industry to adapt to changes in road transport, including proposed clean air zones: “We have to move away from nose-to-tail car traffic at peak times, endless engine idling, stop-start travel and rising pollution and carbon emissions. Rather than contributing to the problem, buses and coaches very much form part of the solution.

“The money will allow councils to retrofit vehicles with technology to reduce tailpipe emissions of nitrogen dioxide, as part of a drive to help ensure that more buses and coaches can contribute to improving air quality in UK cities.”

Lobby group Campaign for Better Transport welcomed the announcement but urged the government to think longer term.

The group’s bus campaigner Chris Todd said: “Investment in retrofitting older buses to reduce harmful emissions is welcome. Buses play an essential part in our transport system, so upgrading services with cleaner buses is an important step towards the clean air that every community deserves.

“However, we’d like the government to move away from small dollops of money for clean buses to long-term funding to speed up the transition to cleaner buses and support a UK success story in green manufacturing.”

Buses need “priority measures”, he added, if the benefits of cleaner technology are to be realised: “With the failure to reduce road traffic and tackle congestion we need to see more bus priority measures introduced, so these clean buses are not just stuck in traffic jams.

“We need to see a long-term bus investment strategy that works for everyone and places the bus at the heart of our transport system.”

Laura Cork

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