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Electrifying £14.7 million funding will bring 70 zero emission buses to Norwich

Norfolk County Council, 2 March 2023 00:00

Norfolk County Council has received confirmation of an extra £11.4 million funding from the Department for Transport (Dft) to electrify bus services in Norwich. This means a total of 70 zero-emission buses will be arriving in Norwich next year along with Roundtree Way bus depot becoming one of the first two fully electric bus depots outside of London.  

This is in addition to the £3.3 million confirmed in March 2022 bringing the total funding to more than £14.7 million for Norfolk. First Bus are funding the additional £21 million needed to make the scheme happen. 

The original joint bid with First Bus was submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) for funding from the 'Zero Emission Bus Regional Access' (ZEBRA) scheme. The bid was matched by £3.6m of local investment from First Bus and was to introduce 15 battery electric buses to the fleet in Norwich and support infrastructure and electrical grid upgrade works.

The DfT then invited all cities that were successful in receiving ZEBRA funding to submit a change to the scope of their schemes, which could include additional buses and electrical charging infrastructure.

Following discussions with First Bus, and their agreement to put in a significant proportion of the funding for the scheme, the Council developed a proposal for an additional 55 zero emission double decker buses. The extra buses are in addition to the 15 single deckers - and all 70 will be operational by March 2024.

An additional 57 fast chargers will also be installed at the Roundtree Way First Bus depot and all diesel infrastructure removed making it a fully electric depot.

Cabinet member for Highways, Infrastructure and Transport Graham Plant said: "This is an extraordinary boost to our ambitions to run a net-zero transport system in Norfolk and this amount of funding means that Norwich will have one of the biggest full electric bus depots in England. The support that First bus has shown for this demonstrates the excellent working relationship we have with our bus operators here in Norfolk and how working together can help to achieve the very best for our County."

Piers Marlow, Managing Director at First East of England said: "This additional funding will allow us to electrify our five most frequent cross-city routes, accounting for nearly two thirds of all our bus journeys operating through Castle Meadow. This significant joint investment will provide a benefit for our passengers, whilst contributing toward improving the air quality in the city. It will also see one of our two Norwich depots fully converted to operate an entirely zero emission fleet, with the installation of associated charging infrastructure and removal of all diesel equipment.

"We continue to work closely with Norfolk County Council and other stakeholders, to deliver improvements to bus services across our networks, and progress the decarbonisation of our bus fleets across the region."

The bus routes that these additional zero emission buses will serve all operate in Greater Norwich and will run through the city centre, which is currently declared an Air Quality Management Area.

The switch from conventional diesel engine buses to electric would reduce Co2 emissions by more than 80,000 tonnes - which is equivalent to taking around 4700 small petrol cars off the road. It will also save 32 tonnes of NOx and PM2.5 every year. These are the fine particles and other exhaust gasses known to reduce air quality and harm people's health.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said:  "Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and these new British-built zero emission buses will help clean up the air in communities across Norfolk.  

"We're providing an additional £11.5 million to roll out 55 new electric buses to provide residents in Norwich and across Norfolk with better, cleaner and quieter journeys, as we step up a gear to reach net zero faster and level up transport across the country."

Notes to editor

  • The total scheme cost is £35,757,600 and is split as follows:
    • DfT investment of £14,719,121
    • First Bus investment of 21,038,479
  • The updated bid will see new electric buses on the following routes:
    • Pink Line - 11/11A/12
    • Red Line - 23/23A/24/24A
    • Orange Line - 21
    • Blue Line - 25/26/26A
  • The original bid will see new electric buses on the following routes:
    • Green Line - 14/15/15A

Norfolk County Council and Net Zero

Norfolk County Council has committed to achieve 'net zero' carbon emissions on its estates by 2030, but within its wider area, to work with partners towards 'carbon neutrality'. This also supports the government's ambition for a net zero country by 2050. We will achieve this by implementing carbon conscious ways of working across our buildings and supply chain; putting in place the right infrastructure across the county to support the move towards net-zero; and by working together with partners to lead and inspire our colleagues, citizens, communities and businesses to take action and play their part in protecting Norfolk for future generations.

About First Bus 

First Bus is one of the UK's largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted 'best in class' amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks. We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. 

We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland. 

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.  

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:45

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