In a collaborative move to address escalating carbon emissions and enhance public transportation, the Brighton and Hove City Council, in conjunction with Brighton and Hove Buses, is seeking funding to introduce 16 new electric buses onto the city’s vibrant streets. The ambitious initiative hinges on securing financial support from the government’s Zebra 2 fund.
The Chair of the Transport and Sustainability Committee emphasized the pressing need to tackle carbon emissions in the transport sector, constituting a substantial one-third of the UK’s total. “Investing in zero-emissions transport is crucial for our journey toward a sustainable, clean, and accessible transport system,” said the committee representative. Reference was made to data revealing a decline in air quality in specific city areas, underscoring the potential impact on residents’ health.
Despite the city’s recent recognition as a global leader in climate action, making it to CDP’s Cities A List, the focus remains on sustained efforts to achieve the ambitious goal of becoming a carbon-neutral city. Emphasizing the significance of public transport, the committee representative highlighted the city’s commendable bus network, ranking among the best in the country with residents making more bus journeys per capita than anywhere else outside London.
The representative stressed the pivotal role of high-quality, frequent, and reliable buses in the city’s success, playing a vital role in reducing congestion and improving air quality. The introduction of fully electric buses is expected to accelerate air quality improvements and contribute significantly to the city’s broader decarbonization objectives.
The bid for the electric buses gained approval from councillors in December, indicating a united commitment towards a greener and more sustainable future for Brighton and Hove. Several bus routes in the city are identified as having some of the highest emission areas, underscoring the need for a swift transition to eco-friendly public transportation.
The proposed electric buses represent more than just an environmentally friendly alternative; they are designed with enhanced accessibility features. These modern buses will include an induction loop for passengers with hearing aids, as well as a flexible space in addition to the mandatory wheelchair space. The flexible area is tailored to accommodate a second wheelchair user or multiple pushchairs or prams, ensuring inclusivity and convenience for all passengers.
The sought funding from the Zebra 2 fund aligns with the Department for Transport’s commitment to promoting zero-emission buses. Launched in October 2023, the Zebra 2 fund aims to inject £129 million of investment into the UK between 2023/24 and 2024/25. The Department for Transport pledges to cover up to 75% of the cost difference between a Zero Emission Bus and a standard conventional diesel bus, as well as up to 75% of the cost of supporting infrastructure.
Adhering to the fund’s guidelines, a local contribution of at least 25% is expected from bus operators and local transport authorities, highlighting the collaborative approach required for the success of such initiatives. This partnership model ensures that the responsibility for building a sustainable and environmentally friendly public transport system is shared among various stakeholders.
As the Brighton and Hove City Council and Brighton and Hove Buses await the outcome of their funding bid, the potential introduction of 16 electric buses marks a significant stride forward in the city’s commitment to green initiatives and sustainable urban development. If successful, the initiative could serve as a model for other cities striving to balance the demands of urban mobility with environmental consciousness in the pursuit of a cleaner and greener future.