TRANSPORT group Stagecoach is to invest £13.5 million in a fleet of electric and gas-powered vehicles after securing funds from the UK government’s “green bus fund”.
The firm, which is due to publish its annual results at the end of next month, has received £2.3m in grants from the Department for Transport (DfT) to help fund the purchase of 55 buses.
Aberdeen-based rival FirstGroup also secured more than £840,000 towards the purchase of 11 buses for its services in Berkshire and York.
Robert Montgomery, managing director of UK bus operations at Stagecoach, said the Perth-based firm has placed a £10.5m order for 38 “hybrid” electric double-deckers, which will go into service in Manchester next year. The vehicles will be built by Falkirk’s Alexander Dennis, in which Stagecoach founder Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag have a stake.
A further £3m will be spent on biomethane-fuelled single-decker buses, built by Alexander Dennis and Scania, for services in Sunderland.
Stagecoach already has more than 230 electric buses in operation across the UK, and the expansion to its hybrid fleet in Manchester will bring it to 128 vehicles, making it the country’s largest outside London.
Montgomery added: “We are delighted to have received support funding from the latest round of the DfT’s green bus fund. It helps meet the £100,000 gap between the cost of a standard bus and those equipped with hybrid electric technology.”
The DfT has awarded grants totalling £12m from the fourth round of its green bus fund, which will help pay for 213 environmentally-friendly vehicles across England. Transport for London received the largest amount in yesterday’s funding round, with £5m for 94 vehicles.
Local transport minister Norman Baker said: “Buses are an essential part of people’s day-to-day lives up and down the country and are a key tool for enabling economic growth. At the same time, we want this growth to be green, which is why we are investing in these brand new low carbon buses.”
Along with Alexander Dennis and Scania, Baker said bus-builders BYD, Optare and Volvo would benefit from the grants, with many of the vehicles being assembled in the UK.
• Skene Group, the Glenrothes-based quarrying and construction services firm, also unveiled a £6m investment in efforts to reduce its carbon footprint yesterday.
Along with spending £3m on plant and machinery at its Leslie quarry in Fife to reduce airborne dust, the company has bought ten Scania lorries with engines designed to reduce carbon monoxide emissions.
Managing director Neil Skene said: “The construction industry has a large carbon footprint because of the nature of the work involved. Skene Group is determined to reduce our impact in the environment.”