Move faster on delivering your pledged 4,000 zero-emission buses, is the message today (Sep 13) to UK Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson from a frustrated group of cross-party MPs who have hand delivered a letter to 10 Downing Street.
It was seen as the biggest shake-up of Britain’s bus network for decades when the PM announced in March a major new bus strategy including plans for 4,000 British-built electric or hydrogen buses, backed by a £3bn ($4.15m) investment.
But since then, slow progress has been made and the group of cross-party MPs, including former transport minister and Chair of the Bus and Coach Industry APPG, Robert Goodwill, are calling for Johnson to move faster on delivering his pledge.
The letter reads, “The UK has three world-leading bus manufacturers who have all invested in R&D to develop market-leading zero-emissions buses (ZEBs) and stand ready to deliver on your government’s commitment to introduce 4,000 ZEBS [zero-emission buses] by 2024/5.
“However, from our discussions with the manufacturers, we understand there remains frustration by the slow progress that is being made in turning government words into bus production orders.
“We therefore, on a cross-party basis, urge you and the Chancellor to take any steps possible to increase the funding allocation for the current financial year to allow further ZEBRA bids to progress, and also ensure the funding available for the 2022/23 financial year is significantly bigger.
“Only a much larger ZEBRA scheme next year will enable your government to deliver on the 4,000 British-built zero emission bus pledge.”
Commenting on the news, Goodwill said, “The PM made a pledge to deliver 4,000, British-made zero-emissions buses by 2025. Whilst some progress has been made, there is a long way still to go if this pledge is to be delivered.
“The slower the progress, the longer air pollution will remain high in our towns and cities, and fewer jobs are being created by our UK bus manufacturers.
“The Bus and Coach Industry All-Party Parliamentary Group will hold the government to account on delivering its pledges to our bus and coach manufacturers.
“As we look to build back better, and greener, from the Covid crisis, zero-emission buses and coaches have a key role to play.
“With a Spending Review coming up, now is the time for the government to invest heavily in UK-made zero-emissions buses, creating jobs across the UK, and building a greener future for our bus network.”