Arriva bosses reveal they can't find 'sustainable solution' to running fully electric bus fleet in Milton Keynes

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It would be irresponsible to continue with the plan, they say

Arriva bosses have spoken out about the reason they pulled out a consortium deal to bring a fleet of fully electric buses to Milton Keynes.

The Citizen revealed earlier how MK Council was left “disappointed” at the bus company's last minute move, and accused them of wasting government and council time and resources.

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Last year the council had successfully bid for £16m in funding through the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Access (ZEBRA) scheme and, working jointly with Arriva, it was expected that Milton Keynes would get 60 brand new electric buses in 2023.

The fleet of electric buses would have arrived in MK next yearThe fleet of electric buses would have arrived in MK next year
The fleet of electric buses would have arrived in MK next year

But now Arriva has quit the project, saying they could not find a “sustainable solution” to making it work.

A spokesman for the company told the Citizen: “We have continued to work constantly in collaboration with Milton Keynes Council over the last year on trying to find a viable way to introduce electric vehicles in to Milton Keynes.

"We remained open and transparent with the council throughout this time that the bid had several challenges and complexities in its structure, and whilst we have worked tirelessly to find a sustainable solution this regrettably has not been possible.”

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He added: “We share Milton Keynes Council's disappointment, but with the current economic uncertainties and escalating operational costs, it would be irresponsible for us to continue with the bid at this time.

"We remain committed to Milton Keynes and working in partnership with the Council to serve passengers in the local community. We also remain committed to the decarbonisation agenda which is evidenced by fleet transitions we have been able to successfully implement through a range of sustainable models in other regions.”

The fate of the council’s bid is now undecided but it is unlikely that another operator willing to take on such a large electric fleet could be found in time to salvage it.

Councillor Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability, said: “Arriva’s decision to pull out of the deal at the 11th hour is incredibly short sighted.

“We must now go back to the drawing board to find a new partner to deliver green and sustainable transport in our city.”