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Councillors agree to back zero-emissions bus bid

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Preston Bus Station wide shot

Lancashire County Council is driving forward a bid on behalf of a number of bus operators to bring zero-emissions buses to the county.

The council’s cabinet has given the green light for an application for up to 70 electric buses to a government fund set up to help transport operators invest in zero emission vehicles.

If successful it could mean electric buses being used on some of the busiest routes in Lancaster, Preston and South Ribble.

A report to cabinet on Thursday 7 December outlined that the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas Fund had been established by the Department for Transport to fund 4,000 zero-emission buses across the country.

Transport authorities such as Lancashire County Council are required to co-ordinate bids on behalf of operators in their area, with Preston Bus, Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire, and Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire having put forward proposals.

The funding would pay for up to 75% of the extra cost of buying zero-emission buses over an equivalent new diesel vehicle, as well as the charging infrastructure needed, with transport operators expected to make up the difference.

If the bid is successful the county council would have a role in ensuring the funding was spent according to DFT guidelines, as well as a meeting a number of other legal requirements.

County Councillor Scott Smith, lead member for highways and active travel, said: “Replacing a significant number of diesel-fuelled buses with zero-emissions vehicles would be really positive step towards achieving our net zero target for Lancashire.

“It’s good that a number of our local operators have grasped this opportunity to make their fleet greener, and I’m pleased that we’re able to support this bid.

“We’re already working closely with operators to make the most of the government funding we’ve received to make services more frequent, reliable and affordable through our Bus Service Improvement Plan, and if successful this bid would result in another significant investment in our public transport infrastructure.”

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