24 August 2021 | Environment

Ambitious bid aims to create electric bus fleet for Harrogate

An ambitious plan to convert an entire Harrogate bus fleet to electric vehicles has taken a step forward after the Government invited North Yorkshire County Council to bid for more than £8m to help to finance the project.

North Yorkshire County Council are working with The Harrogate Bus Company, part of Transdev, on a scheme that – if the funding bid succeeds – would see 39 zero-emission buses delivered in Harrogate over the next three years.

Following an expression of interest to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Zero Emissions Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, the authority has been invited to submit a business case to support its bid for funds.

In total, the project would cost almost £20m, with £11.5m being invested by Transdev. Twenty single-decker and 19 double-decker buses would be bought and the supporting charging infrastructure put in place.

All the vehicles would have next stop announcements, USB power and free Wi-Fi. The routes would include the high-profile and class-leading 36 from Ripon through Harrogate to Leeds, which has seen customer growth of more than 21 per cent over the past few years alone.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We’re near the start of a competitive process and success is not guaranteed, but this action illustrates the scale of our ambition and commitment and, if successful, could provide a blueprint for other areas of North Yorkshire.

“This project aligns with the decarbonisation ambitions we share with partners across the region to protect the environment and counter climate change.

“It would accelerate improvements in air quality, as zero emission vehicles produce no tail pipe emissions, bringing health benefits to residents and visitors. The quieter electric buses would also reduce noise pollution.”

Alex Hornby, CEO at Transdev, said: “We have already created a low-emission bus fleet in Harrogate thanks to the huge investment we have made in the past few years in the most advanced buses available for our customers.

“We hope this bid – alongside our significant further multi-million pound investment – will lead to the next exciting step of our vision to create a completely zero-emission bus network, powered by a fully-electric fleet. With our partners at North Yorkshire County Council, we aim to create further improvements in infrastructure to deliver even better, quicker and more reliable journeys by bus. This comes at a time when we believe our town is ready to embrace more sustainable forms of travel and credible alternatives to continual reliance on the private car.”

The bid must be submitted by the end of January 2022 with a decision from the DfT expected by March 2022.

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