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Norwich’s entire bus fleet could go electric if £42m bid succeeds

PUBLISHED: 07:35 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 07:35 15 July 2020

A successful bid for government cash could see all of Norwich's buses converted to electric. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A successful bid for government cash could see all of Norwich's buses converted to electric. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

More than 180 buses in Norwich could be converted from diesel to electric, if an attempt to secure more than £40m from a government pot is successful.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Picture: Simon ParkinMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Picture: Simon Parkin

The Department for Transport has made £50m available for one or more towns or cities to switch an entire place’s bus fleet to vehicles which are fully electric, or capable of operating in electric, zero-emission mode.

And Norfolk County Council has registered an expression of interest to make Norwich an all-electric bus city, telling the government they would be interested in getting £42m.

Council officers say that would allow just over 180 buses to be converted from diesel to electric.

The government expects councils to work with transport operators to ensure new buses are attractively promoted and are able to offer the best service in terms of reliability and punctuality.

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That could include measures such as preferential lanes, reduced car parking provision, public transport fare capping, Wi-Fi and USB ports on buses, smart ticketing and contactless payment, plus audio and visual announcements.

One of the criteria is the location must have poor air quality. The council says Norwich has a “recognised air quality problem’, with the city centre classified as a low emission zone.

The council says that it has spoken to bus operators, who have a “strong interest” in changing from diesel to electric, although they are at different stages in terms of being prepared for a switch, in terms of finances and resources.

Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure at Norfolk County Council, used delegated powers to agree the council should submit an expression of interest in bidding for the cash.

He said: “It’s important to remember, while this represents a fantastic opportunity for the city, it is only an expression of interest at this stage.

“We are yet to receive any feedback from the Department for Transport, but our engagement with bus operators demonstrates a strong level of local support and we will work closely with all parties should we be successful in progressing to the next stage of the application process.”

The council is currently waiting to find out if a separate bid for Transforming Cities cash for transport changes in Norwich has been successful.

MORE: New bus company to take over long-running city centre service


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