AN AMBITIOUS bid has been launched for Bromsgrove to become the UK’s first all-electric bus town.
It was submitted by Worcestershire County Council which chose Bromsgrove as the area best-suited to the scheme launched by the Government earlier in the year.
As part of the project £50million worth of investment is up for grabs for the UK’s fist all-electric town or city.
Bromsgrove has around 15 bus services run by several operators, including First Worcestershire, Diamond Bus, MRD and Kev’s Coaches.
Buses go to most parts of the district, including Alvechurch, Aston Fields, Catshill, Charford, Dodford, Fairfield, Finstall, Lickey, Lickey End, Rubery, Sidemoor and Wythall.
Services also go to other towns and cities, such as Birmingham, Droitwich, Halesowen, Redditch, Stourbridge, Kidderminster and Worcester.
Coun Adam Kent, whose portfolio on Bromsgrove District Council covers transport, called for electric buses to be looked at last year.
He said: “We have been banging onto the county council about this for ages and I’m absolutely thrilled with this bid.
“Bromsgrove has always had major problems with traffic and air pollution and electric buses would help address this.
“We have all benefited from much cleaner air over the past few weeks – wouldn’t it be great if we could have that in the future and not because we haven’t left the house?”
Coun Kent said new buses would also enable a better range so the right buses could serve each route.
“We could have smaller buses for the less popular routes while the bigger buses operate the main ones – there’s no point in having a double-decker going around with just a few people on it.
“One of the main problems is a lot of buses currently cost too much to run which leads to some being put at risk – electric vehicles would be more financially economical, making services more viable.”
If Bromsgrove’s bid was successful there would also be the potential to better-connect the town centre with the railway station.
“You need reliable buses to get to the station just as the train is ready to leave and to be waiting there, ready to take passengers, when the trains come in.”
The plan for Bromsgrove to have all electric buses is part of Worcestershire’s Passenger Transport Strategy (LTP4).
It is aimed at supporting all forms of passenger transport to best-suit the needs of the people and where they need to get to – whether it be work, school or colleges, the shops or leisure venues.
Coun Kent said: “We do need to look at transport in the district as a whole – we have had £3.5million for walking and cycling routes, the £300,000 for the electric car charging points and if we got this as well it would be brilliant.
“Bromsgrove would really be leading the way towards long-term, environmentally-friendly sustainable transport.”
Coun Alan Amos, Cabinet Member for Highways said it was a really positive step forward in the council’s continuing efforts to provide an increased range of alternative transport to the car.
“We’re really pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, and the potential benefits of awarding the all electric bus town fund to Bromsgrove would be great for the county. ”
The funding would help the county council see the benefits an all-electric bus town would bring to residents, along with lowering emissions and improving the environment.
And Bromsgrove Liberal Democrats praised the county council for the bid.
Bromsgrove District Councillor Siobhan Hughes has campaigned on green issues and put forward a unanimously backed motion last year for the authority to declare a climate emergency.
She said: “When I proposed the motion for Bromsgrove to become carbon neutral I stressed the importance of looking at vehicles and the pollution they cause.
“I am glad to see the county council has agreed with us and have put in an ambitious bid to make buses in our town electric”
Fellow Bromsgrove Lib Dems councillor for Lickey Hills Janet King labelled it a significant step forward and said she felt it would make bus travel more popular in the district.
“It also makes it even more important to retain all our local bus services.”