Government-funded schemes covering England, Scotland and Wales have been in operation since 2009, 2010 and 2018 respectively, with various funding rounds and criterion.

Since 2009, the funds have supported the introduction of ‘green buses’, typically by making up part of the extra cost of a low emission bus (LEB), compared with a conventional diesel, and in some cases grants towards infrastructure costs, such as biogas refuelling.

Over the years the criteria has changed, reflecting improvements in vehicle technology and government air quality policy, with grants for electric buses increasing in numbers, compared with hybrids in early rounds.

In total, since 2009, £106.2m has part-funded 1,715 ‘green buses’ in the three nations.

There is no equivalent fund in Northern Ireland, as the bus network is state-owned and directly funded. In 2018, Belfast’s new bus rapid transit network (Glider) saw the introduction of the first hybrid buses in the province using 30 Van Hool articulated diesel-electric hybrids. These are the only LEBs in Northern Ireland.

ENGLAND AND WALES

The Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (ULEBS) replaces the previous England Green Bus Fund, which had four separate funding rounds.

The new scheme covers England and Wales. Previously there was not a separate Welsh Green Bus Fund, as this was not a policy pursued by the country’s then devolved administration.

The ULEBS is designed to support the improvement of local air quality, by increasing the uptake of ultra-low emission buses (ULEB), and speeding up the full transition to a LEB and ULEB fleet in England and Wales, reducing the need for subsidy support. It is run by the Department for Transport, through its Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). 

The England Green Bus Fund made grants of £88.9m to part-fund the purchase of 1,240 low carbon buses in four funding rounds from 2009-13. Details of the grants made are here

The first round of ULEB Scheme funding was bid for from March-June 2018, with the winners announced in February 2019 with £48m awarded to part-fund 263 new ULEBs.

Details of further funding rounds have yet to be announced. Details of the scheme:  www.gov.uk/government/publications/low-emission-bus-scheme

SCOTLAND

Scottish Green Bus Fund is designed to “further the wider roll out of Low Emission Buses (LEBs) across Scotland.”

Since 2011 a total of eight funding rounds have provided £17.3m towards 475 LEBs.

The eighth funding round opened in May 2018, with the winners announced in September 2018.

In 2020 it evolved into the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEBS) to support the Scottish Government’s net zero targets, its commitment to delivering Low Emission Zones and Scotland’s ambitions for transport decarbonisation.

It provides support for the purchase of new ultra low emission buses up to a maximum 75% of the differential costs against diesel buses, depending on their zero emission running capability. Support is also available for the infrastructure for this technology of up to a maximum 75% of the capital cost.

The first round of SULEBS ran in August 2020. Over £10.1 million of funding supported four completed bids, for the introduction of 57 ultra-low emission buses, and supporting infrastructure.

The second round of SULEBS ran in January/February 2021. Over £40.5 million of funding will support six completed bids, introducing a further 215 ultra-low emission buses, and supporting infrastructure across Scotland.

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