Coventry and Oxford could become the first British cities with all-electric bus fleets. As the British government has now announced, it received 19 applications from all over England for corresponding funding. From these, the two cities were selected as finalists.
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The government is offering up to 50 million pounds per area to convert their entire bus fleets to electric operation by 2025. Coventry and Oxford are now the first cities to develop corresponding business models for this purpose. According to Transport Minister Grant Shapps, a total of up to 500 buses could be replaced by electric counterparts.
The funding is also supposed to cover investments for the entire infrastructure. This means not only the charging points themselves but also, if necessary, investments in local network expansion.
The government’s 50 million pounds (around 55 million euros at the current exchange rate) is to be supplemented by an investment of a further 75 million pounds (83 million euros) by the local bus operator.
“As we build back greener from Covid-19, we can provide people with more environmentally-friendly transport and cleaner air,” Shapps said. “Coventry and Oxford could soon be at the forefront of our plans for a new era of bus services, helping us develop the green transport network of the future and support jobs right here in the UK.”
The government plans to work with both cities and the transport operators in the coming weeks to develop and evaluate the business cases. Then, apparently, a decision on funding will be made.
Update 11 February 2021: Coventry’s plan has now been finalised: the city has announced its intention to put 297 electric buses on the streets by 2025. However, a business case is still being put together and will be submitted to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) on 19 March. Once the WMCA has given its approval, the funding is expected to flow. As reported above, £50 million is to be funded, but a further £75 million is needed from local bus operators to make the purchase. This corresponds to a funding rate of 40 per cent.
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