Oxford has succeeded in its bid for £32.8 million of Government money to help fund a fleet of 159 electric buses.

Oxfordshire County Council has been awarded the money from the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme. The cash is part of an £82.5m scheme which includes £6m from the council and £43.7m from bus companies Stagecoach and the Go-Ahead Group which, between them, own the Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel, and City Sightseeing Oxford.

This funding will support plans to create a zero carbon transport network in Oxford and in the wider area. As revealed at OxProp Summit on March 23, the measures will operate alongside ‘bus gates’ which will filter what traffic can pass through, the zero emission zone and workplace parking levy.

The new buses will be used on bus routes operating wholly within the Oxford Smart Zone, an area covering all of Oxford and stretching from Kidlington in the north to Sandford in the south, and from Cumnor in the west to Wheatley in the east.

They are expected to take more than 6,000 cars off the road and could start to be delivered to Oxfordshire’s roads between the Summer of 2023 and the Spring of 2024.

Tom Bridgman, executive director for development at Oxford City Council, said: “The city council welcomes this Government funding which will support both councils’ plans announced last month to introduce a city-wide workplace parking levy, traffic filters and city centre zero emission zone.

“In order to achieve the maximum benefits of having a modern electric bus fleet, Oxford’s roads need to have more space for buses, cyclists, and pedestrians to move freely and quickly – without being stuck in traffic. The city council will be working with Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford’s bus companies on making the case for the traffic-reduction measures which would facilitate the delivery of these new electric buses, one of the key benefits for Oxford and the county as a whole.”

Bill Cotton, Oxfordshire County Council’s director for environment and place, said: “This is wonderful news for Oxfordshire and a major leap forward for transport decarbonisation and cleaner air in the county. Along with other transport schemes proposed in Oxford, this new fleet of electric buses will transform our public transport system and encourage more people to travel by bus.

“We are looking forward to working with our partners at Stagecoach, Go-Ahead and Oxford City Council to create a sustainable and reliable public transport system.”

Image: Ed Webster, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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