£101 million bus boost for passengers

Commuters and bus passengers across England will see more eco-friendly buses on the roads, congestion reduced and services upgraded, thanks to a new £101 million package of improvements approved by Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.

Today’s announcement will see:

· £31 million spent on 439 low carbon buses, part of the Government’s Green Bus Fund which aims to bring down fuel emission and air pollution levels and encourage bus operators and local councils to make the switch to hybrid-electric, fully electric or gas buses.

· Winning local authorities across England will also receive a share of £70 million under the Better Bus Area (BBA) fund to boost growth, improve partnerships with bus companies and increase bus passenger numbers.

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said:

“This funding means a better deal for passengers and encourages more people to travel by bus. It updates and improves services and infrastructure, reduces congestion, gives quieter journeys and with the introduction of new carbon friendly buses, reduces fuel costs and CO2 emissions, creating a greener network.”

The £70 million will be shared between 24 local authorities who have impressed the Department with their bid for funding. They will benefit from up to £5 million each. This will support a range of targeted improvements including:

· smarter multi-operator tickets.

· traffic lights that can help buses beat the queue.

· real time information; and

· improvements to shelters and stops.

Following a two month bidding process the department has also provided funding for 439 new eco-friendly buses for 2012/2013. Passengers will see 128 single-decked and 311 double-decker buses in service from spring 2013, saving over 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year. The 26 bus operators including Stagecoach, Arriva and First are receiving more than £22 million, with more than £8 million split between five local authorities.

Five bus manufacturers will benefit from orders for their eco-friendly hybrid, electric and gas buses. They comprise: Volvo, Wrightbus, Optare, MAN and Alexander Dennis Limited, all of which are based in, or partly in, the UK.

By switching to low carbon buses, the winners will also be eligible to claim additional government subsidy through the Bus Service Operators Grant to run these buses. Bus operators and local authorities will be given six pence per kilometre to support them with operational costs.

23 March 2012