Two weeks ago we reported that Transport for the West Midlands had won a Government grant of £50 million for the creation of an electric bus network in Coventry. It has now been confirmed that the funding is guaranteed, subject only to the development of a “Full Business Case” which will be delegated to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for approval. The Business Case will be considered by the WMCA on 19th March and it is expected that the full £50 million grant will be paid to the WMCA before the end of that month. The City Council is preparing the business case.
The grant will see 297 new electric buses coming into operation in Coventry and neighbouring Warwickshire over the next four years. By the winter of 2025 every public bus service in the city will be operated by a zero emission electric vehicle. It is calculated that this will save 24,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide and 55 tonnes of Nitrogen Dioxide every year. It is anticipated that the first ten National Express electric buses will take to the street by the end of the summer.
As well as funding for new vehicles, the grant will also cover investment in wider infrastructure such as charging points and upgrades to the electric grid. The £50m will be supported by a further £75m of investment from local bus operators into the new electric buses.
The WMCA has published a notice to set up an Enhanced Partnership Plan for the West Midlands area. Once established this Partnership Plan will require all future bus services in the city to be operated by zero emission buses.
With the introduction of electric buses and the development of a new cycling infrastructure, the city is really taking on the mantle of an advanced modern city. Whether very light rail and a drone / electric taxi airport will extend that vision we will see in due course.