Earlier this year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the Government was making £50m available to one local authority to set the ‘gold-standard’ in environmentally friendly public transport.
The bid has received the support of Swindon's two main bus operators, Stagecoach West and Swindon’s Bus Company - owned by Go South Coast.
The Electric Bus Town proposal is a pilot scheme, the aim of which is to assess the impact of moving all buses to electric power – particularly, it's impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
The winning area will receive the funding to help pay for a brand-new fleet of electric buses, reducing emissions and cleaning up the air in their local community. A town with 200 electric buses could save around 7,400 tonnes of CO2 each year, the equivalent of taking 3,700 diesel cars off the road.
Each electric bus can travel approximately 160 miles on one full charge and it takes four hours to charge the batteries. One electric bus will save 15.5 tonnes of Nitrogen Oxide and 32.2 tonnes of CO2 per year.
In support of this ambitious bid, Justin Tomlinson MP & Robert Buckland MP have written a letter of support for the bid to highlights the reasons why Swindon should be selected for the pilot:
• Shovel ready. Swindon can proceed and deliver this ambitious scheme quickly. Both Go South Coast (Swindon Bus Company) and Stagecoach are experienced operators, and crucially have new, modern, spacious depots which can accommodate the electric infrastructure comfortably, without any planning or construction challenges.
• Extensive support. Both Go South Coast (Swindon Bus Company) and Stagecoach are excited at the potential in Swindon. This was relayed very clearly at the recent All-Party Parliamentary Group annual dinner for the Bus Industry. This was because of their purpose-built new depots, and the support of Swindon Borough Council and business communities.
• Growing towns. Swindon is one of the few towns that welcomes new development, consistently being seen as one of the fastest growing towns in the country. This helps us manage the changing demands on our local transport network.
• 2 for 1. Following the announcement of the closing of the Honda plant in 2021, the Department for Business has been leading the Honda taskforce to help Swindon attract new investment. This would offer a USP to set out the modern, pro-innovative development, pro-green technologies hub. This will also sit well against our new Recycling Technology industries and proposed Science Parks.
Justin Tomlinson said: “Swindon is the perfect place for an initiative like this – we have the infrastructure; experienced bus companies who are excited to take this forward; and a number of innovative companies who can work well alongside such a great scheme. I am hopeful that the Government recognises this, and the bid is successful.”