Could Milton Keynes be Britain's first fully electric bus town?
Milton Keynes could be in line for £50m government funding to become the first fully electric bus town in Britain.
The Department of Transport this month invited applications from, areas interested in setting the ‘gold-standard’ in environmentally friendly public transport.
MK's two Tory MPs Iain Stewart and Ben Everitt are now urging Milton Keynes council to apply.
For the past five years, Milton Keynes has had eight electric buses operating here. They ran on Route 7, covering 15 miles between Wolverton and Bletchley and carrying an estimated 800,000 passengers a year.
But they were part of a five year trial which expired last year. The buses were withdrawn last October and replaced with normal vehicles because "it was time to move on", according to Arriva.
A spokesman for Arriva said today: “Arriva were delighted to be part of the ground breaking trial of the electric bus technology... The buses were all prototypes and the project was a success in many ways, establishing great partnerships between all the collaborators, trialling the technology and the electric buses being able to be on the road all day on a well-used service."
The spokesman added: " However, in the five years the project has been in place, electric vehicle technology has come on in leaps and bounds and therefore it was time to move on and we are now hoping to work with the council on new schemes and government funded programmes that will deliver even more environmental benefits for MK.”
But an optimistic .Iain Stewart said today: “It would be fantastic if all of MK’s bus fleet could become electric and help push to MK’s goal of being carbon neutral... There is evidence electric buses are feasible in Milton Keynes. By having an entire fleet of electric buses, it will go hand in hand with MK’s drive to be a hub of innovation.”
A town with 200 electric buses could save around 7,400 tonnes of CO2 each year - the equivalent to taking 3,700 diesel cars off the road.
Ben Everitt said: “We want Milton Keynes to lead the way on tackling climate change so I’d encourage the council to bid for this funding so we can continue to be a hub of innovation and green technology.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said electric buses have a "crucial role" to play in bringing down emissions.
“But Britain’s first all-electric bus town is just the start," he said. "Helping deliver on our manifesto promise, this £170 million package will help us to create communities which are cleaner, easier to get around and more environmentally friendly, speeding up journeys and making them more reliable.
“By focusing on efficient and affordable transport, we will make greener journeys the natural choice.”