First Bus fleet in Leicester to become 100% electric

The British government confirmed funding of £3 million to First Bus for 18 new zero-emission buses in Leicester today. Wrightbus will manufacture the electric buses in Northern Ireland. This latest investment will enable an all-electric fleet at First Bus’s depot in Leicester.

First bus will run 86 electric buses funded by the Zero Emission Buses Regional Areas (ZEBRA) in Leicester, making the town home to one of the first bus depots in the UK to transition to fully electric.

The new funding is in addition to the financing of 68 electric buses for Leicester that came in last year, as reported.

Janette Bell, Managing Director at First Bus, said they were “absolutely delighted that Leicester will become one of our blueprint bus depots of the future, helping us to refine and iterate this new concept so we can roll it out across the rest of the UK”. She added that through this co-funding with the ZEBRA scheme, they would electrify another five UK depots before March 2024.

These depots were also part of the first funding round last August for nearly 200 electric buses which were earmarked for Leicester, 44 for York, 34 for Portsmouth, 32 for Leeds and 15 for Norwich. First Bus will have over 500 electric buses operating across the UK by 2024.

In total, Leicester has benefitted from nearly £22 million in funding from the ZEBRA scheme to support 114 electric buses.

ZEBRA is to help launch 4,000 zero-emission buses in England by 2025.

The £3 million announced today brings total government funding from the ZEBRA scheme to almost £300 million for up to 1,400 zero-emission buses in England.

Bus Centre of Excellence

In addition, the government announced the ‘Bus Centre of Excellence’ today. Backed by £815,000 in government investment, the new centre is supposed to bring together expertise from local government, bus operators and industry to boost skills and diversity in the bus sector. This follows the £155 million announced last month to continue supporting bus services and providing affordable journeys by extending the £2 bus fare cap.

The latest government funding brings the total amount for buses to over £2 billion since the pandemic, with a further £1 billion invested in improving the quality of bus services through the Bus Service Improvement Plans.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “This multimillion investment for Leicester’s clean transformation, coupled with the new Bus Centre of Excellence, will help drive the country’s bus sector recovery and provide passengers with cleaner, more affordable buses that run on time.”


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