Government unveils £50m plan to create first all-electric bus town

England’s first town to have all-electric buses will be created through a £50m fund, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

Local authorities can bid for money to help pay for a new fleet of electric buses.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said buses had “a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions”.

Darren Shirley, head of the Campaign for Better Transport, called it a “good start” after years of cuts to services.

The DfT said that the winning town would be used as a model by government as it aims to ensure all buses are fully electric by 2025.

The announcement comes as part of a wider package of measures for buses.

About £70m will go towards high-frequency “Superbus” networks. One is already in place in Cornwall, where a mix of lower fares, more frequent services and lots of bus lanes has proven successful.

The government is also putting £20m towards trials of on-demand buses, which can be ordered through an app.

Those services are designed for rural or suburban areas where passenger demand doesn’t justify having fixed routes permanently in place.

An Uber-style bus service already operates in Oxford and Liverpool.

The scheme, run by Arriva which is working with Merseytravel, allows passengers to determine the route of a minibus by entering their pick-up point and destination on a mobile phone app.

However, Oxford Bus Company recently warned that its PickMeUp service “may end” unless it finds additional funding.

Despite making 250,000 journeys since the service was launched in June 2018, Oxford Bus Company said “it is still challenging to operate on a fully commercial basis”.

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