Electric buses could be coming to Norwich - if £3m bid succeeds

First Bus operation manager Chris Speed has praised his quick-thinking staff after a passenger was t

Chris Speed, operations manager for First Eastern Counties. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Fifteen electric buses could be introduced on the streets of Norwich, if an attempt to get £3m of government cash is successful.

First Buses and Norfolk County Council are keen to secure a share of the Department for Transport's £50m Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) fund.

The county council has lodged an expression of interest for a slice of the cash, which would cover the cost of replacing 15 of First's single decker vehicles with single decker electric vehicles.

The county council would like to get £3.2m from the fund to pay for the buses and infrastructure, including charging equipment.

First is ready to add £3.6m should the government stump up that money, taking the total cost of the scheme to about £6.8m.

First is working with UK bus manufacturer, Arrival, to
deliver purpose built electric single deck vehicles, which would run on routes which pass through Norwich city centre.

Norwich is one of five areas across the UK where First is hoping to bring in a total of 193 new electrical vehicles, with the ZEBRA money one of a number of avenues being explored to get them up and running.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Transport. Picture: Dan

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Martin Wilby, the council's cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said: "We’ve been working closely with First Buses on the ZEBRA proposal which, if successful, could see 15 brand new single decker fully electric buses replacing diesel buses on selected city centre routes.

"Replacing existing diesel buses with zero emission buses will reduce exhaust emissions and improve air quality.

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"The initial expression of interest is just the start of the process however, if the scheme is shortlisted by the government a detailed bid would then be developed, likely later this year.”

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties, said; ”We are in full support of the council's approach and proposed application for ZEBRA funding.

"We’re looking forward to continuing our work to improve local air quality and working towards decarbonising the bus sector in the area."

First has pledged not to buy any diesel buses after 2022 and to operate a fully zero-emission fleet by 2035.