Leading bus manufacturer Wrightbus has secured a major order to supply 117 zero-emission buses across England thanks to a £25.3 million investment from the Government.
Operated by First Bus, the buses will be rolled out across Yorkshire, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampshire, and will enable passengers to enjoy greener, cleaner journeys.
The new buses will be manufactured at Wrightbus’s headquarters in Ballymena in Northern Ireland, supporting hundreds of new high-skilled jobs to help level up and grow the economy.
The £25.3 million will pave the way for the Government’s ambitious roll-out of zero-emission buses (ZEBs) and brings total government funding to almost £300 million for up to 1,395 zero-emission buses in England. With this new additional funding, it takes the vision of a net zero transport network one step closer to reality.
The funding is an additional investment from the Zero-Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which was launched in 2021 to allow local transport authorities to bid for funding for zero-emission buses and supporting infrastructure.
Thanks to the new investment, the councils are now able to purchase more zero-emission buses, including:
- Norfolk County Council will receive an extra £11.5 million to deliver 55 additional ZEBs
- Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council will receive an extra £6.2 million to deliver 28 additional ZEBs
- West Yorkshire Combined Authority will receive an extra £5.7 million to deliver 25 additional ZEBs
- City of York Council will receive an extra £1.9 million to deliver nine additional ZEBs
Robert Best, Director of Engineering at Wrightbus, said: "We are delighted to be working with First Bus to further demonstrate their commitment to offering zero-emission public transport in these areas.
"It has been a real team effort between Wrightbus and First Bus to deliver this exciting project, which will help passengers enjoy cleaner transport.
"We’re immensely proud of the reputation we have forged in the zero-emission transport sector and the important role we are playing in the UK’s ambitions for decarbonisation.
"Our double deck battery electric buses are 44% more efficient ’grid to wheel’, saving energy costs and carbon.
“All of the buses will be manufactured and assembled at our Ballymena factory, which means support for jobs in Northern Ireland, and wider across the UK through our domestic supply chain.”
Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and these new British-built zero emission buses will support hundreds of high-quality manufacturing jobs in Northern Ireland, grow our economy and help clean up the air in towns and cities across the country.
“We’re providing an additional £25.3 million to roll out 117 new buses to provide residents in Yorkshire, Norfolk, and Portsmouth with better, cleaner and quieter journeys, as we step up a gear to reach net zero faster and level up transport across the country.”
Zero-emission buses are also often cheaper to run, improving the economics for bus operators. All these additional buses funded through the ZEBRA scheme are battery electric.
Janette Bell, Managing Director at First Bus, said: “We are delighted to be accelerating investment in the electrification of our bus fleet and infrastructure, supported by co-funding from the Department for Transport.
“As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the Government’s ambitions for a net zero carbon transport system.
“We are rapidly transforming our business with zero-emission bus fleets and will continue to work closely with central and local government across the UK to deliver our decarbonisation plans.”
The move is part of the Government’s wider £3 billion National Bus Strategy to significantly improve bus services, with new priority lanes, lower and simpler fares, more integrated ticketing and higher frequencies.