Coventry and Oxford are set to be the first parts of the UK to run all-electric bus services according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The two cities are developing proposals in an England-wide competition to switch entire fleets of buses to all-electric versions, helping to deliver on the government’s efforts to “make bus journeys greener, easier and more reliable”.

The competition page states that a town with 200 electric buses could save around 7,400 tonnes of CO2 each year, the equivalent to taking 3,700 diesel cars off the road.

The government received 19 bids from English towns and cities, with applicants required to fulfil a set of criteria which include: demonstrating buy-in from stakeholders in their local areas; outlining existing plans to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality; and showing how the plan would tackle an existing air quality problem.

Subject to approval, the two local authorities could be granted up to £50 million each to finance the change to a greener fleet, install new infrastructure such as charging stations, and pay for electric grid updates.

The government will work with Coventry and Oxford to finalise their business cases over the coming weeks.

Grant Shapps said:

“As we build back greener from Covid-19, we can provide people with more environmentally-friendly transport and cleaner air.

Coventry and Oxford could soon be at the forefront of our plans for a new era of bus services, helping us develop the green transport network of the future and support jobs right here in the UK.”

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, added:

“This news is brilliant for Coventry and the West Midlands, and I am delighted the Secretary of State and his department have once again put their faith in our region to deliver.

“Turning all of Coventry’s bus fleet electric is not only a major boost to public transport in the city, but it will also help tackle the climate emergency we face both here in the West Midlands and the wider UK.”

Oxfordshire County Council Leader, Councillor Ian Hudspeth, also commented on the news:

“Oxfordshire’s bid comes at a time when our council is determined to take concerted climate action to cut vehicle air pollution and expand the provision of bus services with our Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford plans. This council is committed to offering our residents a clean and environmentally sustainable future through a series of steps including through better public transport.”

In February of last year, the government promised £5 billion “to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London”, while it is set to launch the UK’s first ever long-term bus strategy in the coming months.

The UK has seen a move towards electric vehicles, with coach operator Ember launching the UK’s first all-electric inter-city coach service between Dundee and Edinburgh last year. Additionally, Transport for London (TfL) is working with London Councils and the boroughs of London to launch a rental e-scooter trial in the capital later this year.