New £16m fleet of electric buses planned for Sheffield and South Yorkshire by 2024

Nearly £16 million would be spent on a fleet of electric buses serving Sheffield and South Yorkshire, under new plans.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 2:11 pm

The money would pay for 27 electric buses – the first to be introduced in the region – including a Sheffield city centre shuttle bus similar to the old FreeBee bus service which The Star has campaigned to get reinstated.

The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority – as Sheffield City Region is now known – has submitted a bid for £6.8m from the Department for Transport under the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas Scheme.

If successful, that would be topped up with just under £7m capital funding to buy the buses and £2m to run the shuttle bus service for the first five years, provided by the mayoral authority.

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A new fleet of electric buses planned for South Yorkshire would include a new shuttle bus service operating in Sheffield city centre (pic: Steve Ellis)

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Under the proposals, Stagecoach’s 221 Rotherham to Doncaster and 22X Rotherham to Barnsley routes would both be electrified.

The new Sheffield city centre shuttle bus service, set to be put out to tender, would also be fully electric.

South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis said: “We’re looking for every opportunity to renew our bus fleet, reduce running costs, and cut the pollution that is not only warming the world but harming the health and wellbeing of too many people across South Yorkshire. A zero-emission fleet is firmly part of our vision for the service, and this application to the government’s ZEBRA fund is aimed at building it as quickly as we can.

“We’ve made a strong bid, and if it is successful we hope to get 27 zero-emission buses on the road by 2024. There are various factors that could affect that timetable but we want to get wheels on the road as soon as we can.

“This is only part of our plans for our buses. We need to do our part, but the Government also needs to go beyond this small-scale program and help drive a wholesale decarbonisation of our public transport.

“And it needs to back our wider work to make public transport, walking and cycling affordable, accessible, safe and convenient – so that they are everyone’s first choice for travel in South Yorkshire. It's vital to making our region not just greener, but fairer, stronger and better off.”

There are currently no electric buses on South Yorkshire’s roads, and the new fleet of 27 buses, if approved, would represent little over three per cent of the 833 buses operating across the region.

But the mayoral authority argues that the new buses would help improve air quality and act as a stepping stone towards its target of all buses being zero-emission by 2040.

The application states that the entire urban area of Sheffield has been identified as an Air Quality Management Area because levels of harmful NO2 are above the legal limit.

A Clean Air Zone is planned within Sheffield city centre, where the shuttle bus would escape the charges set to be levied on polluting buses, lorries and taxis.

The mayoral authority says it plans to submit a full business case to the DfT by the end of January 2022, with a decision expected in February or March next year.

Should the plans get the go-ahead, the buses are expected to hit the road in March or April 2024.