The UK government has announced a grant scheme for local authorities to create Britains first zero-emissions bus town. Funding will be provided for electric buses and infrastructure to the area that can provide a convincing plan.
The initiative should have a “gold standard” effect and pave the way for other areas to move bus transport off fossil fuels. The scheme is part of a larger plan to decarbonise transport.
The electric bus town scheme will be funded with up to £50 million. At the same time, another £170 million will be put into communication strategies to get more people to take the bus since this takes up fewer resources as well as less energy and space than individualised automobile motorisation. A third aspect of the fund announced this week is £20 million to trial on-demand ride-sharing services in rural and suburban areas, £70 million for ‘Superbus’ networks and £30 million to improve current services or restore lost routes.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Buses carry more people than any other form of public transport in the UK, and with 200 electric buses able to offset 3,700 diesel cars, it is clear they have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions.” It seems the thrust of the mission is also to make more affordable clean transport so that users look towards shared and public transportation as a “natural choice,” as the Transport Secretary described.
The Superbus networks mentioned above aim to increase the frequency of services by investing in bus lanes and “other priority measures”. In Cornwall next year, the Superbus networks plan is to be introduced. This network will be integrated with the main railway line in the county.
Priority measures also include changes to traffic infrastructure. One such scheme is the Transforming Cities Fund. Here in the first tranche of the programme, Derby and Nottingham, the North East, Portsmouth and Southampton will all see the deployment of bus priority traffic lights, aimed at speeding up trips to city centres. This fund is endowed with a budget of £2.5 billion.
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