OXFORD is set to become one of the UK’s first all-electric bus cities.

Alongside Coventry, Oxford is developing proposals to run solely all-electric bus services, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced yesterday.

Both cities are developing business cases in a nationwide competition to switch an entire town or city’s bus fleet to electric vehicles.

Subject to a successful business case, Oxford could be awarded up to £50 million to not only replace its entire fleet of buses with all-electric versions, but to also install new infrastructure, such as charging stations, and pay for electric grid updates.

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In total, the Government received 19 bids from across the country to become the first all-electric bus town or city.

Oxfordshire County Council first announced it would bid to make Oxford the first all-electric bus city in February.

The changes would see a conversion of all the buses in the city run by Stagecoach and the Oxford Bus Company.

The council’s cabinet then agreed to submit a near £50 million bid at a meeting in May.

Applicants were required to demonstrate buy in from stakeholders in their local areas, outline existing plans to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality, and show how the plan would tackle an existing air quality problem.

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County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “Oxfordshire’s bid comes at a time when our council is determined to take concerted climate action to cut vehicle air pollution and expand the provision of bus services with our Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford plans.

“This council is committed to offering our residents a clean and environmentally sustainable future through a series of steps including through better public transport.”

The change to a cleaner and greener bus fleet will help improve air quality and reduce emissions, helping further deliver on the Government’s attempts to decarbonise the transport network, as well as support local businesses and jobs in the UK developing green buses.

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Mr Shapps said: “As we build back greener from Covid-19, we can provide people with more environmentally-friendly transport and cleaner air. Coventry and Oxford could soon be at the forefront of our plans for a new era of bus services, helping us develop the green transport network of the future and support jobs right here in the UK.”

The Government will now work with the county council and the local authority in the West Midlands to finalise their business cases over the coming weeks.

The competition is part of a wider package of measures to improve services and make bus journeys greener, easier and more reliable.

In February 2020, the Government announced £5 billion for a new ‘golden era’ for buses and active travel.

Meanwhile, the UK’s first-ever long-term bus strategy will be launched in the coming months.

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