Arriva bus company leaves council stranded after pulling out of £16m electric bus deal for Milton Keynes

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‘It feels like a kick in the teeth’ says one councillor

Leading councillors have spoken of their “disappointment” after private bus operator Arriva has withdrawn at the last minute from a consortium deal to bring a fleet of fully electric buses to Milton Keynes.

Arriva bosses pulled out of the deal less than a year before the City Council was set to receive the buses.

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A leading Cabinet member has today (Tuesday) slammed the bus company’s action as a “major waste” of council and government time and resources.

Arrive has pulled out of the electric bus scheme for MKArrive has pulled out of the electric bus scheme for MK
Arrive has pulled out of the electric bus scheme for MK

Last year the City Council successfully bid for £16m in funding through the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Access (ZEBRA) scheme.

It was expected that Milton Keynes would get 60 brand new electric buses and an upgraded overnight charging depot facility.

Despite being “fully supportive and engaged” with the multi-million-pound bid from the outset, Arriva bosses this month pulled out from the deal - telling the council their decision was based on commercial reasons, say councillors.

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The Labour and Lib Dem Progressive Alliance has now criticised Arriva for its 11th hour action.

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. Sadly, this means that there has been a major waste of Council and Government time and resources.

“It feels like a kick in the teeth as a lot of work went into preparing the bid and rolling out electric buses would have taken us closer to reaching our climate ambitions as a city.”

She added: “It’s incredibly disappointing that we won’t be able to bring electric buses to Milton Keynes as quickly as we intended. As a Council, we’ve always championed sustainable transport and improving air quality, with electric buses due to be at the heart of this.

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

The deal would put Milton Keynes on the map as one of the first major electric bus cities in Britain.