The Scottish Government has launched a new Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. This will provide £9m worth of funding to help bus operators transition to zero-emission vehicles and to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
The money from the Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEBS) will cover up to 50% of the cost difference between an ultra-low emission bus and a conventional diesel equivalent. That figure rises to up to 75% depending on the zero-emission capability of the bus.
This means that fully-electric buses or those capable of running in zero-emission mode are eligible. At the same time, to qualify as an ULEB, a bus must save 30% well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions over the UK Bus Test Cycle compared to a Euro VI diesel bus, according to the guidelines for application document.
The scheme also includes fuel cell vehicles. However, funding decisions will be made on a case by case bases as there is not currently a grid average for hydrogen so bids with the need for infrastructure must demonstrate renewably sourced hydrogen, according to the guidelines.
In general, support for infrastructure is available for up to a maximum of 75% of the capital cost through the scheme.
It is not the first such funding in Scotland. The new programme is an evolution of the Green Bus Fund. The Scottish Government invested £17 million between 2011 and 2018 through the fund which led to nearly 500 cleaner buses across Scotland, according to recent information.
For the new scheme, the Scottish National Investment Bank will support and enable the transition and will look to leverage additional private finance. Commercial bus operators are encouraged to contact the bank or other financial institutions as part of their application for grant support.
At a whole, Scotland has ambitious plans regarding electrification: As of 2032, the nation plans to help phase out combustion motors, mostly by incentivising the sale of all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids. To help prepare the switch to electrified vehicles, Transport for Scotland has been running a series of measures and funding, ranging from e-bikes over charging stations to (large) electric vehicles.