First Bus orders 193 e-buses

First Bus has placed an £81 million order with manufacturer Wrightbus for 193 electric buses as part of a UK Department for Transport (DfT) funding scheme.

The order is said to be the largest electric vehicle (EV) bus purchase outside of London and will see new zero emission buses being rolled out across England from March 2023.

First Bus will invest £43m in the new vehicles and will be supported to complete the electric fleet project with a £38m grant from the DfT.

First Bus has worked with five local authority partners to secure the funding, which is claimed to help bridge the gap between the cost of a Euro VI diesel bus and the EV equivalent as well as the relevant infrastructure costs.

The order will include 68 buses in Leicester in partnership with Leeds City Council, 44 buses in York in collaboration with the City of York Council and 32 buses in Leeds in an agreement with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The move will also see the deployment of 15 buses in Norwich in a deal with Norfolk County Council and 34 buses in Portsmouth in a tie-up with Portsmouth City Council & Hampshire County Council.

Each regional project will be completed over the course of the next two years. It means that First Bus will have over 500 EV buses in operation in a project that will support its plans to run an entirely zero emission fleet by 2035.

As part of the deal, First Bus will also work with the bus builder to help upskill current and new engineers in a bid to create new green jobs.

The buses will be fully built in Northern Ireland at the Wrightbus facility in Ballymena.

First Bus UK managing director Janette Bell, said: “We will continue to work closely with central and Local Government across the UK to support the delivery of our shared decarbonisation ambitions and commitments.”

The funding comes from the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area scheme, which allows local transport authorities to bid for funding to purchase zero emission buses.

Transport minister Baroness Vere said: “It’s fantastic to see First Bus place the largest ever order of electric buses outside London, thanks to investment from our £270 million scheme.

“This marks a key stepping-stone towards our National Bus Strategy commitment of funding 4,000 zero-emissions buses, as we decarbonise and level up transport across the country.”

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