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Council bids to make Reading buses electric

15 July 2021 #Bus and Coach #TNB News

An electric bus is being trialled in Reading, with the results expected to influence the future of bus travel in the town.

Reading Buses has deployed the battery electric BYD ADL Enviro400EV demonstrator double decker on the purple 17 route between Wokingham Road and Tilehurst from 9 July for nine days.

The bus can achieve at least 160 miles between charges, a range suited to urban routes like the purple 17.

Reading Borough Council, in partnership with Reading Buses, has also submitted an expression of interest to the Department for Transport’s £120m Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme that would deliver 59 electric buses to the town over a four-year period.

The initiative allows local areas nationwide to make an expression of interest for funding to purchase zero emission buses, as well as the infrastructure needed to support them.

If the council’s bid is successful, the scheme would additionally contribute funds to help cover the infrastructure improvements needed at Reading Buses Great Knollys Street depot to allow for the rapid charging of the electric bus fleet.

Should Reading’s expression of interest be approved by the DfT, the council will be invited to produce a full business case for the scheme to be submitted later this year.

a final decision from Government on bids received is expected early in 2022.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority; Kent County Council; Leicester City Council; Milton Keynes Borough Council; Warrington Borough Council and West Midlands Combined Authority have also applied for funds through the ZEBRA scheme.

They will all now develop business cases for investment, with the government awarding the first portion of funding to those that produce the strongest business cases.

Reading Buses and Reading Borough Council already have 61 bio-methane buses, as well as one trial electric bus conversion and is fitting Euro-6 particulate traps to all older diesel vehicles.

The ZEBRA application seeks to supplement the investment in bio-methane between 2013-17 with a similar scale of investment in battery EVs, focused on routes that are suited to the technology at its current level of development.

If completed, 38% of Reading Buses fleet would be biomethane, 36% battery electric and 26% Euro VI diesel, and a decision can then be made between further investment in bio-methane, battery electric or hydrogen to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “The council, along with Reading Buses, is fully committed to Reading’s net zero carbon target by 2030 and is serious about improving the poor air quality which blights some parts of our town.

“Tremendous progress has already been made by both the council and Reading as a whole towards the 2030 target, but this is exactly the sort of initiative we need to accelerate that progress. We hope the Government will allow us the opportunity to develop our bid later this year.”

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