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County Council Plans £49 Million For Low-emission Buses in War on Pollution

Published on: 24 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 27 Nov, 2020

Photo: Suzy Hazlewood

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

The county council has committed £49 million towards their plan to have all Surrey buses operating at zero or at least ultra-low emission within 10 years.

The cabinet today (Tuesday 24) approved a scheme to replace 70 to 80 buses with less-polluting ones by 2025.

Since almost half (46%) of all Surrey’s carbon emissions are transport-related, this is a significant step towards the council’s aim of net-zero carbon by 2050.

Cllr Matt Furniss

Councillor Matt Furniss (Con, Shalford), cabinet member for highways, said the scheme would get the more polluting buses off Surrey’s roads.

He told cabinet: “We believe this is the first occasion a scheme of such magnitude will be introduced in one area of the UK.

“We’ve been working closely with our partners on this and they are extremely excited about the opportunity to deliver such large-scale change.”

The new buses could be electric, micro-hybrid, or powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Bus operators will be able to bid for £32.3 million of funding. The council will give preference to bids for bus routes running through any of Surrey’s 26 air-quality management areas, where present or future air-quality is unlikely to meet national objectives.

For example, nitrogen dioxide is high across the borough of Spelthorne, most likely due to its proximity to Heathrow, the M25 and the M3.

There will also be £9 million invested in targeting pinch points, to help ensure buses can be relied on to run to their published timetables.

Bus lanes and bus priority at traffic signals are being considered for the A23 between Redhill and Horley.

A further £6.3 million will fund 50 ultra-low or zero-emission community transport minibuses.

Bids for these will be invited from all providers of home to school, adult social care and health transport, including borough and district councils.

Cllr Natalie Bramhall

Cllr Natalie Bramhall (Redhill West & Meadvale) is cabinet member for environment and climate change. She said: “Surrey’s roads carry twice as much traffic than the South East average and it’s vital we increase use of public transport, and at the same time reduce our transport emissions.”

The council is dedicating £1.4 million to improving the real-time passenger information system, such as more on-street displays.

Cllr Tim Oliver

Council leader Tim Oliver (Con, Weybridge),said: “It’s absolutely essential we build and facilitate a good public transport infrastructure. If we’re ever going to get anywhere near our targets we do need to attack that 46% of carbon emissions from transport.

“Only when we’ve got a reliable transport system with real-time data will people be confident to use it.”

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