A £5.5m Government award has given a major boost to Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street’s commitment to deliver the cleanest bus fleet in the UK outside London.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has received nearly £3m to upgrade buses to the latest ‘Euro VI’ emissions standard across the region, with a further £2.5m going to Coventry.
The Mayor’s goal is for the entire fleet in the West Midlands metropolitan area to have Euro VI engines by April 2021– cutting harmful pollution across the bus network by up to 95 per cent.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street with National Express West Midlands apprentice Amy Manning
Buses with Euro VI engines are far cleaner than older models – helping to improve the health of thousands of people who live and work in the area and to reduce the emissions that cause climate change.
The funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will enable 350 buses in the West Midlands to be retrofitted to Euro VI standard.
The Mayor said: “I am delighted that we have been successful in our bid for Government funding. This is a massive boost to our ambition to clean up the air in the West Midlands.
“We will now be working with the companies involved to make sure their vehicles are upgraded as soon as possible.
“Poor air quality contributes to almost 1,500 premature deaths per year in the West Midlands, so I have pledged that every bus in the metropolitan area will be replaced or upgraded by April 2021.
“Today’s announcement is a fantastic step towards this target. There is still work to do and I am determined to attract more funding for the West Midlands to make this happen.”
Cllr Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for transport, added: “Reducing bus emissions is a vital part of our programme to improve people’s health and quality of life by cleaning up the air.
“Cleaner, greener buses will also encourage more car drivers to leave their vehicles at home and take the bus instead – which will reduce pollution even more.”
To help bus companies replace or upgrade their most polluting vehicles, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, has already waived the fees it charges them for using the region’s bus stations and roadside passenger information for a year.
This has given the companies an extra £2.7m this year and this will see 360 more buses replaced or upgraded. There are about 2,100 buses and 29 operators across the West Midlands metropolitan area.
Last month, Coventry City Council and National Express won £2.2m from the Government for ten new, zero-emission electric buses and Wolverhampton City Council secured funding for one electric bus.
The Mayor’s ambition, if successful, would see the West Midlands matching London, which is currently upgrading or replacing all its buses to meet the Euro VI standard.