Cambridge gets green ticket for ZEBRAs

Cambridge residents will soon start to see the benefits of 30 new zero emission buses to be rolled out across the city. The announcement was made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of the Budget and Spending Review in Parliament yesterday (27 October).

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) received the news that their business case to help fund 30 new electric double-decker buses for the Cambridge area has been given the green light as part of the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme initiative for 2021-22.

The successful business case, submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) in August 2021, provides an opportunity to make significant improvements to the serious air quality issues, which cause up to 100 early deaths each year, in one of the world’s most famous cities. It requested a grant award of £4.295 million to help provide zero emission replacements for the first 10% of the region’s 350-strong bus fleet in operation on the urban and interurban bus network across the region.

The grant represents just 26% of the overall project of over £16.5 million, with the balance being funded from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority’s Transforming Cities Fund, Greater Cambridge Partnership’s City Deal and an operator partner. This combined value will support the purchase of 30 new battery electric, zero emission double-decker buses to operate on the Park & Ride and Citi2 routes, and will also include in-depot charging infrastructure and opportunity charging infrastructure at a Park and Ride location (and respective grid connections), to extend vehicle range while the bus is operating a route. The new buses are expected to enter service in the second half of 2022.

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough said:

“Receiving funding as part of the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme is fantastic news as we look to develop and share our Local Transport and Connectivity Plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for consultation over the coming months. The ZEBRA funding isn’t purely a matter of public transport but of public health and hitting our carbon zero ambitions.

“As a practicing consultant paediatrician, I’ve seen the negative impacts of traffic pollution on children and their families, and these effects are a very real concern to me. As Mayor, I am working with my team to ensure we include public health and environmental considerations as key criteria in everything we do.

“Over 100 deaths in Greater Cambridge are attributable to air pollution each year and buses are the largest single contributor to emissions. These new buses will reduce emissions in that central zone by over 40%, contributing significantly to improved public health.”

Elisa Meschini, Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board said:

“I am delighted at the news that the GCP and CPCA have been successful in our joint bid for more electric buses for our area.

“This is great news, and we will be working closely with the CPCA to get the buses running as soon as possible as well as delivering the electric charging infrastructure they need.

“This will make a significant contribution to improving air quality, while supporting a number of GCP projects which aim to make buses a greener and more attractive travel choice in Greater Cambridge.”