PLANS for all-electric buses throughout Oxford and surrounding areas are needed to prevent miles of traffic caused by 'the amount of building' going on around the city.

That was the message as a bid for cash to fund all local bus services going electric was signed off by Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet yesterday.

The cabinet, made up of the most senior councillors, voted to apply for cash from a £120m pot of funding provided by Government to create a Zero Emission Buses Regional Area, or ZEBRA, around Oxford.

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The bid could be for as much as £35m of the Government cash, helping Stagecoach, the Oxford Bus Company, and other local services in the Oxford urban area to all go electric as soon as possible.

As the cabinet met and agreed the plans, the new member for the environment, Pete Sudbury said encouraging people to switch to using buses over private cars was important to stop traffic queues in the city, as is currently happening on Botley Road and other areas.

Dr Sudbury said: "A one-mile queue of cars is the equivalent of about four or five buses.

"If we don’t get an awful lot of people shifting into active transport, including buses, with the amount of building we have going on in Oxfordshire, we will be unable to keep up with the amount of road building needed for all those people in cars."

Oxford Mail: A busy High Street. The Oxford High Street back to normal now the Botley Road has been opened. January 13 2014.

The council will now send off a bid to Government, to convert all buses running through Oxford and into surrounding towns and villages into electric vehicles.

If successful, services covered by the area would include those running to Kennington, Kidlington, Wheatley and Cumnor.

A bid which the former Conservative council won last year to make Oxford an all-electric bus city was not taken up by the county, because it would have needed to include long distance services like the Oxford Tube.

Cabinet member for highways management, Tim Bearder said it was an 'exciting time for buses' in Oxfordshire as he brought the plans to the meeting.

He and his fellow council chiefs also signed off on a plan to make sure the different bus companies in Oxfordshire work closely together, called the 'Oxfordshire Enhanced Bus Partnership'.

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Under this plan, the council could create its own franchise, like Transport for London, but Mr Bearder said he was not minded to do this.

Instead, he said he hoped it would lead to a better network of buses in the county, including extending buses to 'disenfranchised' villages which had lost their services in the past.

The council's deputy leader Liz Brighouse added she hoped this could also be extended to providing buses for children to get to school in rural areas.

Plans for the ZEBRA could help the county council meet its goal of becoming a zero carbon council.

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