Leicester to become one of UK’s first electrified bus depots outside of London

Posted: 22 March 2023 | | No comments yet

First Bus plans to electrify its Leicester depot, with 86 electric buses set to hit the city’s roads by March 2024, as part of its ZEBRA funding and net zero carbon emissions commitment.

Leicester to become one of UK's first electrified bus depots outside of London

Credit: First Bus

First Bus has announced that its Leicester depot will become one of the UK’s first electrified bus depots outside of London, alongside its York and Norwich depots. The announcement comes after the company and its local authority partner had successfully secured Department for Transport (DfT) approval to boost their existing Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding.

Hailed a ‘depot of the future,’ Leicester will set the precedent for a further five depots to become electrified by March 2024 through boosted ZEBRA funding.

First Bus will invest £6.6 million to bring this project to fruition, alongside additional DfT funding of £2.9 million secured in partnership with Leicester City Council. In total, 54% of the funding will be provided by First Bus, with the remaining 46% coming from the UK government’s ZEBRA scheme. An additional 18 electric buses will arrive in Leicester in late 2023, with 86 hitting the road by March 2024.

Roads and Local Transport Minister, Richard Holden, said:  “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and these new UK-made zero-emission buses will help make them more attractive still by providing cleaner, smoother and more reliable services across Leicester. We’re providing an extra three million pound to roll-out 18 new electric buses to provide residents in Leicester with better, cleaner and quieter journeys, as we step up a gear to reach net zero faster and level up transport across the country.”

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“We’re absolutely delighted that Leicester will become one of our blueprint bus depots of the future, helping us to refine and iterate this new concept so we can roll it out across the rest of the UK,” said Janette Bell, Managing Director at First Bus. “Through this co-funding with the ZEBRA scheme, we’re excited to electrify another five of our UK depots before March 2024, and look forward to introducing even more electric buses to our constantly growing fleet.”

“As part of the Leicester Buses Partnership, we are committed to making the whole of Leicester’s bus network electric, or zero-emission, by 2030,” said Councillor Adam Clarke, Deputy City Mayor Responsible for Transport, Clean Air and Climate Emergency. “New bus shelters, real-time information displays, integrated timetables, additional bus lanes and ‘best fare’ ticketing are just some of the initiatives that will complement the welcome investment in sustainable transport that First Bus is making in Leicester.”

At the conclusion of the ZEBRA projects, First Bus will have over 600 zero-emission buses in its fleet. This latest boost means that the company currently has 328 fully electric buses on order with Ballymena-based Wrightbus, which will help secure green jobs in the short-term.