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Green light for Coventry to become UK’s first £50m All Electric Bus City


Pollution-busting plans for Coventry to become the UK’s first All Electric Bus City have been backed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) leaders today.

Under the ground-breaking project, every bus in Coventry will be electric powered by 2025, leading to improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower running costs.

Approval from the WMCA Board means that £50 million Department for Transport (DfT) funding will now be handed to the region to deliver the project.

Electric bus in Coventry. Photo credit: National Express West Midlands
Electric bus in Coventry. Photo credit: National Express West Midlands

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, will work with bus operators to replace buses and install charging infrastructure on the streets of Coventry. This includes pantograph, or overhead, charging points which will be available to all bus operators.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “It took a lot of lobbying and persuading, but I am delighted we won the Government’s national competition to turn Coventry’s bus fleet all electric.

“It was great to welcome the Prime Minister to Coventry this week to talk about our all-electric plans, and crucially today’s confirmation by the WMCA board now unlocks his Government’s £50 million investment, meaning we can get on with rolling out the clean, green, electric buses onto the city’s roads.

“Not only will the clean bus fleet improve the public transport offering in Coventry, but it is also another step towards tackling the climate emergency and helping to attract people to leave their cars at home in favour of taking the bus.

“This is a great time for bus users in Coventry, with our newly refurbished Pool Meadow bus station, the trial of West Midlands On Demand buses serving the University of Warwick campus, as well our wider investment in fare-capping and better value fares, bus priority measures, real-time travel information and on board facilities like wi-fi and USB charging.

“It is a bus revolution here in the West Midlands, and Coventry is right at the heart of it.”

Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, said:  “Our £50m investment will see Coventry’s entire fleet of buses replaced with new, all-electric vehicles. This will have a profoundly positive effect on air quality and emissions in the area and reduce noise pollution.

“This Government is committed to decarbonising the transport network across the UK, as we build back greener and strive to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “We have finally got this over the line after we were able to convince the government that this city is the ideal location and this will make a major dent in addressing air pollution.

“We already have a range of schemes to improve air quality and this will help exceed our targets.

“We have great working relations with bus companies in the city and these are exciting times for all of us. The hard work starts now.”

TfWM will lead the project in partnership with Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and local bus operators – who are together paying 25% of the added costs of electric vehicles over diesel and charging infrastructure.

This is a major project for bus operators across Coventry, and attracts significant investment from them to replace every bus in their fleet within five years. Operators, including National Express Coventry, which launched 10 electric buses in service last summer, and Stagecoach, will also ensure the new buses offer customers the best in on-board comfort and technology, as well as being good for the environment. 

The clean air benefits will be felt beyond the city boundary, as many services which start or finish in Coventry serve Warwickshire, Solihull, Birmingham, Rugby and Leicester. This will support the #WM2041 target for the region to be net-zero carbon within two decades

Coventry was selected to be the UK’s first All Electric Bus City following a successful bid to the DfT. Applicants were required to demonstrate support from stakeholders in their local areas, outline existing plans to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality, and show how the plan would tackle an existing air quality problem.

This year TfWM is already on target to for buses to be Euro-VI compliant low emission vehicles – but this plan sets the region well on the road towards a zero-emission bus fleet.