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Passengers to benefit from cleaner, more reliable journeys as £43 million delivered for 352 electric buses in the South West

  • Nine councils in the South West receive funding to give residents cleaner, more modern and more reliable bus fleets
  • Part of the Government's plan to improve local transport in the South West, growing the local economy and delivering a brighter future for all
  • Follows £177 million to improve bus services in the South West and extend the £2 bus fare until the end of this year

Residents across the South West will enjoy cleaner, more reliable and more comfortable bus journeys as the Government delivers more than £43 million to roll out new state-of-the-art electric buses in the region.

Today (Friday 22 March), Transport Secretary Mark Harper has confirmed that 352 zero-emission buses will hit the road in the South West as nine local councils receive £43.4 million to decarbonise their bus fleet.

The new investment is the first time the Department is directly funding new electric buses in the region. From Cornwall to Wiltshire, from Gloucestershire to Torbay, the new investment will help make local buses across the South West more modern, cleaner and more reliable, improving the local journeys that so many people rely on.

The funding is part of the £143 million investment from the second round of the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) programme, which will see new electric buses across towns, villages and cities across England, many of which will get zero-emission buses for the first time.

Thanks to the ZEBRA scheme, no other European country registered as many electric buses in 2023 as the UK, with zero-emission buses accounting for almost half of all new large buses introduced last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Today's funding comes on top of over £177 million to improve bus services in the South West from the Department's Bus Service Improvement Plan.

The funding is in addition to more than £3.5 billion the Government has been investing since 2020 to protect and improve bus services in England while extending the £2 bus fare all the way to 31 December 2024, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.

To make sure more parts of the country benefit from better buses and green technology, particularly rural areas where the journey towards decarbonising buses is in its early stages, the Government has prioritised the first £40 million for rural communities.

These state-of-the-art buses will also improve the passenger experience, providing users with considerably quieter and more comfortable journeys.

The new zero-emission buses will not only be cleaner, helping improve local air quality both for bus users and the local communities, but they will also be more modern and replace older diesel buses.

They will also meet Enhanced Accessibility Standards, and will come with the latest passenger experience features such as wi-fi and USB charging sockets.

Councillor Richard Wilkins, Somerset Council's Lead Member for Transport and Digital said:

"This is incredibly exciting news for Somerset and a major part of our drive towards a cleaner, greener county and we are really grateful to First Bus South for their major investment in Somerset's future."

Allocations for the South West are:

  • Cornwall Council – £1,300,000 for 8 vehicles
  • Devon County Council – £5,300,000 – 41
  • Gloucestershire County Council – £5,900,000 – 58
  • North Somerset Council – £2,100,000 – 24
  • Plymouth City Council – £9,500,000 – 50
  • Somerset Council – £2,200,000 – 25
  • Torbay Council – £7,100,000 – 49
  • West of England Mayoral Combined Authority – £6,600,000 – 74
  • Wiltshire Council – £3,400,000 – 23

Regular readers will know we nearly lost our 54 bus but that has been given a reprieve and runs for another year to the end of March 2025. What happens after that has to be up to all of us to support the route.

Your current timetable can be accessed HERE, but be aware there will be a new one issued 'soon' showing changes (if any) to this timetable effective from 12th April 2024.

Somerset Council and the Somerset Bus Partnership launched the 'Bus It' campaign last summer to try and encourage more people to 'Bus It': click HERE to find out more.

Figures show that bus use increased by 32 per cent across the county between January and June 2023 thanks to initiatives such as fare capping (still only £2) and the Bus It campaign.

We can all do our bit.

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