The traditional model of government grants to support the increased costs associated with the purchase of green buses is now considered unsuitable

 
The government has pledged to invest in 4,000 new zero emission buses

 
Bus operators want the government to team up with private financiers to purchase thousands of new buses – and then lease them to operators.

The government has pledged to invest in 4,000 new zero emission buses, but the Confederation of Passenger Transport says a new funding mechanism will be required to deliver them. The traditional model of government grants to support the increased costs associated with the purchase of green buses is now considered unsuitable as it still requires significant upfront investment from cash-strapped operators.

CPT is instead proposing that the new buses and their associated infrastructure are financed through a combination of £2bn of government and private investment (£500,000 per vehicle). Operators would then pay a fee in exchange for long term usage of the bus.

Bus operators have invested £2bn in new cleaner and greener buses over the last five years, but the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that annual orders for around 2,750 buses have been reduced or cancelled entirely. Capital expenditure has been slashed as bus operators respond to the unprecedented falls in passenger revenue caused by the lockdown and social distancing measures.

The loss of these orders represents an immediate threat to 10,000 skilled jobs and apprenticeships in UK bus manufacturing.

Any new bus purchased today is already cleaner than the equivalent car and the industry remains committed to ensuring that from 2025 every new bus on our roads will be ultra-low or zero emission

“Any new bus purchased today is already cleaner than the equivalent car and the industry remains committed to ensuring that from 2025 every new bus on our roads will be ultra-low or zero emission,” said CPT chief executive Graham Vidler.

“Our new proposals kick start that process helping the government to achieve its ambition for 4,000 new zero emission buses, contributing to a green recovery from Covid-19 and protecting highly skilled UK manufacturing jobs.”

CPT also highlighted the importance of encouraging people back onto the bus following the government’s “avoid public transport messaging” to both reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.

“One extra bus journey per person each month would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by two million tonnes a year,” said Vidler. “In the aftermath of the ‘avoid public transport’ message the government will need to work with operators on a high profile campaign to get people back onto the bus in the months ahead.”

 
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