BUS passengers in Oxford could be the first in the country to use a fleet of electric buses costing up to £50m.

A partnership involving the county council, city council, Stagecoach, the Oxford Bus Company and Arriva announced it is submitting a funding bid to the Government to be Britain’s first all-electric bus city.

The development comes after the Department for Transport announced that applications for local authorities to become the first all-electric bus location have now opened.

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The winning town or city will receive up to £50m to pay for a new fleet of electric buses, helping to reduce harmful emissions.

Oxford Mail:

The All-Electric Bus Town proposal will be a pilot scheme to understand the challenges of running an electric bus fleet, including running costs data, and ties in with the council’s work to create a Zero Emission Zone, starting later this year.

Last year Oxford Bus Company trialled an electric single decker on its park-and-ride services.

OBC managing director Phil Southall said: “We look forward to examining this opportunity with our local authorities and establishing whether we can unlock vital funding to support the vision for a cleaner Oxford via electric technology.”

The £50m government fund is part of a total £170m to improve services and make bus journeys greener.

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The councils will also be applying for a £20m fund from the £170m to encourage the development of on-demand ride sharing services, like OBC’s app-based PickMeUp service, which is under threat due funding pressures.

Chris Coleman, managing director of Stagecoach Oxfordshire, said: “Buses have a key role to play in boosting the region’s air quality.”

The All-Electric Bus Town fund will take the form of a two-stage competition. Submissions for the first phase opened on February 6 and closes in April.

The funding bid comes at a time when both councils have announced radical plans to introduce a Zero Emissions Zone, as well as expanding bus services across the eastern side of Oxford, and a series of congestion-busting measures including five new bus gates.

Oxford Mail:

In the past two years, the city council has also secured £2.3m to upgrade the city’s buses and reduce toxic air pollution from the Government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund.

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This will help the upgrade of 115 of the city’s buses to Euro 6 standard and provide five more electric buses.

Tom Hayes, city council cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “In Oxford we have seen a drop in harmful nitrogen dioxide levels by an average of 22.7 per cent because of the introduction of ultra-low emission buses. We need to go further and faster.”

Oxford Mail:

Yvonne Constance, county council cabinet member for the Environment, said: “Funding to support the launch of electric buses in Oxford is a clear sign of our commitment to offer residents a clean and environmentally sustainable future.”