It was recently announced that the region was successful in securing 27 electric buses in order to make the county’s fleet greener,
SYMCA submitted a bid for the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme funding for a £15 million plan to introduce 27 zero-emission buses and supporting charging infrastructure across the region by September 2023.
The successful bid will support 23 new single-decker electric buses for Stagecoach to operate on the 221/22x routes across Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham and four single-decker electric shuttle buses for Sheffield city centre.
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The proposals involve South Yorkshire’s four local authorities and two Clean Air Zones (CAZs).
In total, 23 single decker electric buses are proposed for the 221 and 22x commercial bus services, all of which will run from the Rawmarsh depot in Rotherham.
Of these 23 new buses, 10 will be specifically for the 221, and a further 10 specifically for the 22x.
An additional three buses will be used as contingency vehicles across both services.
These additional buses are said to be ‘necessary for in-service operation, out of service mileage, vehicle scheduling/positioning, maintenance and testing’.
The proposal also includes a new electric city centre shuttle bus service in Sheffield and will involve four new electric single decker buses, one of which will be a contingency vehicle.
The bid was focused on securing the first zero-emission buses for South Yorkshire and was labelled a ‘key stepping-stone’ towards their regional Transport Strategy goal of a zero-carbon public transport network by 2040.
Ben Hardy, principal project manager at SYMCA, said: “A Net Zero emission bus fleet also forms a key part of South Yorkshire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan programme.
“Upgrading the existing buses to electric is a minimum requirement for achieving a highly efficient public transport network, which responds to the needs of existing and future users.
“An electric fleet can contribute to raising the profile and resilience of the network, and increase the patronage on all types of journeys.
“The environmental benefits of this shift will be felt throughout the community, benefiting a group wider than simply those who use the bus for travel.”
The funding boost is part of the government's nearly £200 million investment in levelling up transport across the country.
South Yorkshire is one of only 12 areas chosen to receive the cash windfall.
South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis said: “This is a huge step in making our bus system fit for the future. Cutting edge new zero emission buses will help attract people back onto public transport.
"They will cut pollution on our streets that is implicated in 17,000 premature deaths across the UK.
"They will help us reduce the carbon emissions that are fuelling a global climate crisis. And they will cut our operating costs, freeing up money for better services.
“I’ve always argued that our ambition for our buses should be nothing less than a world-class service. This is only a beginning, but it sets us on the right path for that transformation. Now we need to build on it.”
The Government said that the move is expected to remove over 57,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the country's air each year, as well as 22 tonnes of nitrogen oxides on average, as the it works to reach net zero emissions, clean up the transportation network, and rebuild greener.
Welcoming the news, Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: “This is fantastic news for South Yorkshire and is testament to the hard work of Mayor Dan Jarvis that he’s been able to secure £8.3 million from the government.
“If we are to reach our net zero targets, it’s essential that we decarbonise our public transport system. Transport on the roads makes up 40 per cent of our carbon emissions, we have to hurry up and move from petrol and diesel.
“This funding will enable the region to run 27 buses across South Yorkshire and more importantly, to install the infrastructure to ensure more electric buses can be added to the fleet.”
The Government has also launched a public consultation seeking views on setting a specific date between 2025 and 2032 for ending the sale of new non-zero emission (at the tailpipe) buses.
This would mean that, from 2032 at the very latest, the sale of all new buses, powered either in part, or totally, by an internal combustion engine would cease to be allowed.
Any new buses sold from that date would need to be fully zero-emission at the tail pipe and the end of sales would apply across the whole of the UK.
Such a move would bolster the market for zero-emission buses, making them the default choice for operators to transition sooner.
The case for zero-emission buses was made in the recently published South Yorkshire Bus Service Improvement Plan, and in the Bus Review led by Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.
The Bus Review, which was concluded before the Coronavirus pandemic, took into consideration the experiences and feedback from 5,900 members of the public, bus users, community groups, businesses and interest groups, of the impact poor and unreliable bus services have had on their lives.
This evidence, as well as evidence from bus operators, local authorities, the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and others, has contributed towards the findings and a number of recommendations aimed at providing passengers with a bus service that meets their needs.
Work is now progressing on the development of a seven point plan to take forward a series of recommendations for delivery.