The Scottish Government has opened a new Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEBS). This year, the scheme will provide £9 million to help bus operators invest in ultra-low emission vehicles to help drive a green recovery out of the COVID-19 crisis while improving air quality.Support is available for the purchase of new buses, and assists with 50% of the cost differential between a standard diesel bus and the equivalent ultra-low emission bus. This can rise to a maximum 75% support of the differential for buses depending on their zero emission running capability. Support is also available for the infrastructure for this technology of up to a maximum 75% of the capital cost.
SULEBS is said to be an “evolution of the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund” through which £17 million was invested between 2011 and 2018 to help operators overcome the initial capital costs of new buses. The scheme supported the introduction of nearly 500 cleaner buses across Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: “The Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme will support bus operators and bus manufacturers in what I know is a turbulent time for the industry. The investments we will make this year will help drive forward a green recovery in Scotland while supporting our air quality objectives and our world-leading climate targets.
“With around three-quarters of all public transport journeys made by bus in recent years, equating to some 380 million trips across Scotland in 2018/19, it’s always been clear to me how critical our bus industry and its supply chain is to our wider transport objectives outlined in our National Transport Strategy.
“This is why during the COVID-19 crisis we are providing up to £109 million to increase and maintain services and why we are providing £10 million for bus priority infrastructure measures. In addition, we have maintained concessionary travel payments and Bus Service Operator Grants at pre-COVID levels and have also improved our existing offer for exhaust retrofit solutions.
“I’m pleased that our Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme will provide further support for our vital bus sector which plays a key role in keeping Scotland moving, improving our air quality whilst responding both to the COVID-19 crisis and the global climate emergency.”
Paul White, Director for the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) in Scotland, added: “While COVID-19 has presented immediate challenges for our sector we cannot lose sight of important elements of public transport policy such as air quality, decarbonisation and patronage growth. The launch of SULEBS is an important step in retaining the momentum for meeting these objectives and the wider National Transport Strategy vision.”