This will be used to retrofit buses with technology to reduce tailpipe emissions of nitrogen dioxide.
Originally we invited authorities to apply for a funding total of £30 million now and £10 million in 2 years’ time.
But we received a large number of strong applications for this round.
And we wanted to start realising the air quality benefits as quickly as possible.
So we’ve made the full amount – just under £40 million – available now to fund two-year projects.
It will enable older vehicles to meet the minimum standards in the Clean Air Zone Framework, particularly in areas exceeding statutory limits.
And I am going to announce the successful bidders:
Bristol and Bath.
Transport for West Midlands.
Transport for Greater Manchester.
Transport for London.
Sefton MBC Air Quality.
And finally, Newcastle City.
I’m grateful to all the bus companies who had a hand in the applications.
Ultimately, we see dedicated ultra low emission buses as the long-term answer - but retrofitting offers a very attractive alternative for now.
Not all local authorities were successful with their bids.
But there will be further opportunities for councils to receive money for retrofitting through the Clean Air Fund.
As local authorities prepare to set out their initial plans for reducing nitrogen dioxide concentrations by the end of March, retrofitting technology will help ensure that more buses help clean up the air in our cities.
And as we look to the future, technology will give us other opportunities to improve the efficiency of buses.
For example, if we know how much passenger demand there is for a particular route or service, we can look at providing the appropriate size of vehicle for the job…..
Not just cutting the number of empty seats.
But cutting costs and emissions too.
Bus Services Act
I’ve already mentioned the Bus Services Act, and how it’s designed to make bus services more attractive to the travelling public.
That’s something I will be focusing on in the months ahead.
New enhanced partnership powers will enable local authorities and bus operators to work together to improve services.
And new franchising powers, replacing the existing Quality Contract Scheme, will also improve the management of buses in the regions where they apply.
I’m keen to see the open data provisions in the act benefit passengers too.
One of the existing barriers to passenger growth is that it can be difficult to obtain information on bus fares, routes or times.
Where the information does exist – on the web, for example – it can be inconsistently presented, or be buried in unwieldy and hard-to-decipher timetables.
But by making data open and accessible, software firms can create apps that package and deliver the relevant information to smartphones at the click of an icon.
So the open data should make it easier for passengers to use the bus network.
We published guidance on implementing the measures in the Act last November.
And we’ll publish further regulations and guidance this year.
So – to sum up – I see the future as full of opportunity.
If buses are crucial to our transport system today….
Then as road transport is transformed over the coming decades….
They will become more important than ever.
And I’ll be doing everything I can to spread the message.
I’ll be getting around the industry over the next few months, and meeting as many of you as possible.
To hear your views on how we can best support growth.
But one thing is absolutely clear.
The key to success is partnership. Government and bus industry, local authorities and operators working together. For the benefit of the passenger, for the benefit of bus operators, and for the benefit of Great Britain.