City government

Millions needed for futuristic bus project after government rejects bid from Liverpool City Region

Over £2million is being sought by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) to fund the additional costs of its futuristic new bus project.

In March 2019, the city region became the first in the North of England to trial hydrogen buses with 20 new vehicles purchased for a full program last year using the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) budget. The vehicles will be used on bus routes 10 and 10a between Liverpool and St Helens.

The £12.5m budget also provided funding for the installation of refueling facilities. At the same time, an application had been made to the Department for Transport (DfT) and its Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme to expand the fleet and further fund refueling costs and repository changes.

READ MORE:Two men bitten by police dog as fights break out after Liverpool v Everton game

After that offer was rejected by the DfT last month, the LCRCA is seeking additional funding of £2.1m from the TCF to cover the tanker and depot modifications. A report to the Joint Authority, which will be discussed on Friday, said the additional 20 buses “are not part of the critical path of this project and therefore are not part of this funding request.”

The hydrogen bus project is part of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s ‘Vision for the Bus’, which pledges to use the powers available through decentralization to build a better, more reliable and more affordable bus network for the city region. Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), a UK-based bus manufacturer, has been selected to deliver the vehicles to the region following a competitive tender process.

The report states that “due to the turbulence of supply changes and fluctuating raw material prices”, the refueller is expected to be operational from July 2023. It added: “To mitigate the effects, a solution temporary is available which will allow for a scaled down operation with a daily refueling of 14 buses, with the remaining 6 being on a weekly cycle.

Changes will be made to three depots in St Helens, Gilmoss and Green Lane to ensure operational compliance of vehicles. Arriva and Stagecoach are to jointly operate the new service. The hydrogen buses produce zero emissions and will run on what will be the region’s first “green road”.

The combined authority will sign off on the plans when they meet Friday in their Mann Island room.