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A fleet of 28 more electric buses is set to serve Gosport, Fareham, and Portsmouth after a bid for government funding was approved, taking the total number of electric buses in the region by March 2024 to 62. Electric buses are now set to provide smoother, quieter bus journeys across Hampshire.

In partnership with First Bus and Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council has been awarded £6.1 million to increase the scope of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme.

This funding will be used to support the introduction of 28 more electric buses and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This scheme and funding are in addition to the 34 new electric buses and £6.5 million investment announced as part of the ZEBRA programme last year. Including match funding by First Bus the investment for all 62 electric buses and subsequent infrastructure is £28 million.

The 28 new electric buses will replace part of the current diesel fleet and will support air quality improvements in Portsmouth and Hampshire.  They will run on routes across the Solent area, including the X4 (The Hard – Fareham – Southampton) and the X5 (Gosport – Fareham – Southampton) and the Eclipse rapid transit corridor from Fareham to Gosport for the ferry connection to Portsmouth.

This new ZEBRA funding award will make a significant contribution to Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Councils plans to move towards Net Zero by 2050 and will be key in promoting economic growth for the region.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said:

“It is wonderful to hear that we have been successful in our bid to secure even more zero emission buses for Portsmouth and the surrounding area. We have not been shy in sharing our plans to increase the amount of sustainable travel in this city, and I am delighted we are making good on promises to transform public transport. This project demonstrates how working together, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council and First Bus can deliver change to improve the quality of bus services and vehicles to benefit our communities”.

Simon Goff, Managing Director, First Bus (South) said:

“We are delighted to be investing in the latest fully electric buses and excited to be further along the road to a zero-emission fleet. These vehicles will be a welcome boost for our customers in Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport and we look forward to launching them early next year. We are committed to providing our passengers and the local communities we operate in with the most sustainable fleet possible, and that is why we feel it is important to invest in these state-of-the-art electric buses that will improve air quality and help the environment.”

Councillor Rob Humby, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said:

“This is very good news for the area as it means improved bus travel for residents and increases the ability for bus journeys in the area to be free of emissions. I am delighted that we were able to lend our weight to the bid and help improve public transport for the benefit of residents in south-east Hampshire.  It is testament to the strong partnership we have with our neighbouring authority in Portsmouth and established good relationships with bus operators, like First Bus, across the county.”

As well as Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council, First Bus has worked closely with other local authority partners in Leicester, Norfolk, West Yorkshire and York to secure and support ZEBRA funding. Each regional project will be completed over the course of the next two years, meaning that First Bus will have over 600 EV buses in operation throughout the UK, in what will be a huge leap forward First Bus’s pledge of an entirely zero emission fleet by 2035.

More information available on the travel Portsmouth website travel.portsmouth.gov.uk/public-transport/