Sustainable public transport - The Green Bus Fund
in United Kingdom

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The Green Bus Fund is a government-funded aid scheme which supports transport operators in England to buy low carbon buses.

It is illustrative of a public-private partnership, where the British government works directly with private bus operators. Transport companies and local authorities compete for funding by placing bids for grants for the purchase of new low carbon buses. These grants bridge the gap between the cost of a low carbon bus and that of its standard diesel equivalent, giving a financial incentive to purchase the low carbon alternative. A low carbon bus is defined as a bus that can achieve the Low Carbon Emission Bus (LCEB) target of emitting at least 30% less greenhouse gas emissions than its equivalent diesel bus of the same passenger capacity. Buses subsidized through this scheme must meet this minimum environmental standard. There have been two rounds of funding thus far, with a £30 million budget in 2009-2010 and a £15 million budget in 2010-2011.

The Green Bus Fund aims to support new transport technologies to help “green” the transport sector by stimulating the market for low carbon buses. In 2009, low carbon buses made up only 0.2% of buses operating in England, despite their environmental benefits. The goal of the Fund is to boost the introduction of hundreds of new low carbon buses, showcasing the government’s intention to target investments in areas that promote green growth, including sustainable local transport.

The scheme, organised by the Department for Transport, is part of a wider government commitment to combat climate change. Under the Climate Change Act of 2008, the United Kingdom is responding to the threats of climate change and moving towards a low-carbon economy through a set of legally binding emission reduction targets, or carbon budgets. Four carbon budgets are currently set in law, each covering a five-year period, running in total until 2027. This is part of the Government’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 relative to 1990 levels.

The transport sector accounted for 37% of total energy consumption in the UK in 2010 and is therefore an area where cutting greenhouse gas emissions would have a significant impact in helping the UK meet its ambitious climate change targets. At the local level in England, all local authorities are required, under the Transport Act 2000, to develop Local Transport Plans (LTPs) which must make reducing GHG emissions a central goal. LTPs are thus an important aspect of transport planning in England. Reliable transport is crucial to creating sustainable communities and it therefore has a significant role to play in achieving Government targets for carbon emission reductions.

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