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Liberal Democrats reignite electric bus debate for Medway Towns

May 26, 2020 9:55 AM
By Medway Liberal Democrats - Alan Wells

electric bus ArrivaIn replying to Medway Liberal Democrats' question to council "When are we going to get electric buses?" Councillor Filmer stated that "bus operators did not currently have any plans to introduce electric buses in Medway. However, the council was planning to bid for a £50million government grant to develop an all-electric bus city and was working with the local bus providers to submit an 'Expression of Interest', the first stage of the bidding process".

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Vivienne Parker, Chair of Medway Liberal Democrats said "I think this is appalling considering the poor air quality in the centre of Medway. We have an air quality management area running right through the centre of Medway all along the A2 from Strood to Hoath Way, with extensions along Luton Road and between Cuxton Hill and Frindsbury, another running from the Lower Lines to Danes Hill and another running the length of Rainham High Street. This is a huge area of the centre of Medway where people are suffering poor air quality and the council is clearly dragging its heels here just as the Government is anxious to reduce poor air quality post COVID by providing millions of pounds in grant funding."

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Chatham is one of the worst areas in the country for air quality, and Liberal Democrats have been consistent in calling on the council to play a leadership role by adopting policies which are in line with our local environment. Electric buses can play a major part in reducing air pollution. Additionally, we believe the council needs to promote its existing Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to address pollution in the region by encouraging people to use public transport and provide incentives with cheaper fares, a greater frequency of services, more twilight bus services, quicker journey times and promoting eco-driving and car sharing.

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We welcomed the news that the council launched its first electric bus trial last year, and we support any positive initiatives that the council is making into what infrastructure Medway would need should bus providers and operators also share an interest in introducing electric buses across Medway in future years.

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However, the council's response to our question lacks urgency, especially when we learn more about the huge health impact of air pollution. The council should fast track the procurement of pure electric buses to transform Medway's bus fleet. Liberal Democrats are calling for the council to invest in a transport system that will improve the air quality and health of Medway residents.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

The Government urged councils to bid for the funding which would help pay for a new fleet of electric buses, saving up to 7,400 tonnes of CO2 each year.
  • This is the equivalent of taking 3,700 diesel cars off the road.
  • The money is part of a wider £170m fund to encourage more people to take the bus.
  • Includes £20m to trial on-demand ride sharing services
  • £30m to restore lost routes and improve services.
  • Buses carry more people than any other form of public transport in the UK.
  • Buses have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions and will help to create communities which are cleaner, more environmentally friendly