Gloucestershire County Council has been awarded nearly £6million by the Department of Transport (DfT) to introduce Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs) in the county.

The award of £5,900,000 will fund up to 58 ZEBs in the county, meaning more than 20 per cent of Gloucestershire’s buses will be electric.

Among the routes that formed the county’s bid was the 777 which runs between Lydney and Coleford

Secretary of State for Transport, and MP for the Forest of Dean, Mark Harper MP visited the Stagecoach West depot in Cheltenham to announce the funding award on Thursday 21 March.

The county council worked with bus operators Stagecoach, Pulhams and Lydney Dial a Ride to submit a joint funding application to the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas 2 (ZEBRA 2) programme.

The successful bid will unlock total investment into electric buses and infrastructure of more than £29million, which includes the government funding, contributions from the county council and Forest of Dean District Council, and substantial private sector investment.

Thebuses will remove an estimated 59,069 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and an estimated 30 tonnes of nitrogen oxide emissions over theirlifetime of the buses.

The operators will be ordering the vehicles and infrastructure, such as charging points, later this year. The first electric buses are expected to be in service in late 2025/early 2026, allowing time for infrastructure delivery and vehicle manufacturing.

Cllr Philip Robinson,  the council’s Cabinet member responsible for buses, said: “I’m delighted the Department for Transport has recognised the strength of our bid with this funding for up to 58 zero emission buses in the county.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “As part of our plan to improve local transport across the South West, we’re providing over £43 million to roll out 352 brand new zero-emission buses across the region.

“This latest investment into our bus fleet comes on top of the £3.5 billion we have invested into our bus network since 2020, protecting and improving bus routes into 2025 as well as extending the £2 bus fare cap until the end of 2024, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.”