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First Bus to invest £89m in zero-emission bus operations after DfT ‘ZEBRA 2’ funding success

  • £89 million investment in 178 zero-emission buses and infrastructure across four regions 
  • Worked with Local Authority Partners to secure £16 million of Government co-funding 
  • Operator will run more than 800 Zero Emission vehicles across 14 electrified depots in the UK  

First Bus is investing £89m in a further 178 zero-emission buses and infrastructure across four of its regions. In partnership with Local Authorities, funding of £16m has been secured through the latest round of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme.  

The latest investment will also enable four depot sites in Taunton, Weston-super-Mare, Basildon and Hengrove in Bristol, to upgrade their power and infrastructure; futureproofing them to operate a fully electric fleet in the coming years.  

This latest round of funding, underpinned by investment from First Bus, part of FirstGroup, allows some of the bus operator’s most rural communities, alongside inter-urban routes, to benefit from state-of-the-art electric buses, improving air quality and significantly reducing carbon emissions.  

First Bus will introduce a total of 178 zero-emission buses across the following regions; 

  • Basildon depot in partnership with Essex County Council 
  • Weston-super-Mare depot in partnership with North Somerset Council 
  • Hengrove depot in partnership with West of England Combined Authority (WECA) 
  • Taunton depot in partnership with Somerset Council 

This latest news follows quickly off the back of the company’s Norwich depot becoming the first depot outside of London to run a zero-emission bus fleet with its two further depots in York and Leicester set to follow suit and roll out their own zero-emission bus networks by the end of the spring. 


The completion of all these projects means First Bus will operate more than 800 zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure at 14 depot sites across their UK operation.  

At least 18% of its overall UK bus fleet will be zero-emission at the completion of these projects – a huge step in the company’s pledge to operate a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2035.  

Janette Bell, Managing Director for First Bus, said:  

“Today marks a significant milestone as we invest further in our journey towards a zero-emission bus fleet across our UK operations. We’re delighted that customers will benefit from Government co-funding of these transformative projects. We’ve worked tirelessly alongside our Local Authority partners to get to this point and cannot wait to get these vehicles out into service for our customers.   

"It is an exciting time for our colleagues at all four of these sites as we start to transform and futureproof our depots. This is also great news for our customers, who will see the immediate benefits of these state-of-the-art vehicles – including improved air quality and enhanced customer experience.   

"As leaders in sustainable mobility, we’ll continue to work closely with central and local Government across the UK to support the delivery of our national decarbonisation commitments in our relentless pursuit to create a nation who loves and uses the bus.”  

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said: 

“As part of our plan to improve local transport across the country, we’re providing a further £143 million to improve journeys for bus passengers particularly in rural areas, with almost a thousand brand new, zero-emission buses due to hit the road. 

“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.” 


Notes to editors


Zebra 2 regional breakdown 


Total Bus 

Of which single deckers 

of which double deckers 




















NB: The DfT’s scheme funds the gap between the cost of a low emission diesel bus and its Zero Emission equivalent along with some of the relevant infrastructure costs. 

About First Bus   

At First Bus, we are on a mission to grow bus usage. We will get behind initiatives that move people out of cars and onto bus.   

We’re one of the UK’s largest bus operators, delivering over a million passenger journeys every week for the communities we serve.   

Transforming our business for the better, we’re putting our people and customers at the heart of all we do.   

We’re all about making journeys easier for our customers, which is why we were the first national bus operator to rollout Tap On, Tap Off payment technology across our entire UK fleet of 4500 buses.  Our First Bus app has also been voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators.    

First Bus is committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. By the end of Spring 2024, 15% of our will fleet will comprise of Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs).   

We’re passionate about giving back to the communities we serve, which is why we’re helping local businesses to progress their own decarbonisation journeys with access to our charging hubs while our buses are on the road.  

We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland, Specialist Passenger Solutions, First Travel Solutions, York Pullman Coaches and Ensignbus.   

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.     

Find more information on First Bus here: https://news.firstbus.co.uk