New electric bus orders will nearly double numbers of zero-emission models on the UK’s roads
The announcement of a further 263 new zero-emission buses orders, which will nearly double the number on the UK’s roads from the 329 currently in use, has been welcomed by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment. 19 bus operators will shift to using electric buses with the largest roll-outs set for London (63), Cardiff (36), and Manchester (32).
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In 2018, 4.2% of new bus sales in the UK were zero emission compared to 9% on average across the EU for city buses. The new grants will therefore help to boost the UK figures towards the EU average.
Urban buses are ideal for switching to electric as they help tackle both urban air pollution and transport’s CO2 emissions which in the last year have remained static. They are also more popular with passengers than diesel buses as they are clean, quiet, smooth and odourless. Driver surveys in Copenhagen report that a quarter of passengers say they will use the bus more now that they are electric. More than 80% of drivers support the shift to electric buses with 41% reporting fewer headaches at the end of the shift driving an electric bus.
Recent T&E research shows that across the EU electric buses are no more expensive than operating a diesel bus due to their much lower fuel and maintenance costs. However, in the UK a fuel subsidy (the Bus Service Operators Grant) has slowed down the shift to electric buses compared to other EU countries.
T&E’s UK director Greg Archer said: “Both passengers and drivers prefer electric buses and the £48 million funding from the Department for Transport to support the purchase of 263 new electric and hydrogen models is a welcome step forward for the UK where sales of zero-emission buses are about half the level of the rest of the EU. The government needs to look again at how it subsidises buses, as paying for part of the fuel costs is antiquated and discourages the shift to more efficient and electric models.”
This week EU Member States and Members of the European Parliament will aim to agree new targets for sales of zero-emission buses that could lead to 50% of new buses being electric by 2025. The UK therefore needs to accelerate progress to match that in the rest of Europe. However, of the 385,000 electric buses estimated to be in operation globally, 99% are in China.
Note to editors:
 Pages 8-9, presentation by Mikkel Krogsgaard Niss, Lord Mayor’s Department, City of Copenhagen, to e-bus conference at enmark Representation to the EU, Brussels, 22 November 2018.