SOMERSET will receive 25 new electric buses thanks to a £14.7million investment which won't cost the council a single penny.

The new double-decker and single-decker buses will be funded by a £2.2 million grant from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Zero Emission Bus Regional Area scheme, along with a £12.5 in investment from First Bus South which operates Buses of Somerset.

The buses will operate from First Bus South’s Hamilton Road depot in Taunton which is currently being upgraded to include charging points and infrastructure.

According to Somerset Council, First South have 'extensive experience' of delivering electrification projects across five of their other UK depots, including First South’s depot in Hoeford, Fareham.

The electric buses will replace part of Buses of Somerset’s current diesel fleet, and are expected to each save up to 60 tonnes of tailpipe emissions per year - a total of 1500 tonnes.

The transport sector generates the largest proportion of carbon emissions by sector in Somerset (44 per cent in 2019) significantly higher than the total UK emissions (27 per cent). 

The proposed routes for operation of the electric vehicles are as follows: 

  • 28 – Taunton to Minehead 
  • 21 – Taunton to Bridgwater 
  • 22 – Taunton to Wellington  
  • 1 – Taunton Town Service 
  • 2 – Taunton Town Service 

Councillor Richard Wilkins, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital, said: “This is incredibly exciting news for Somerset and a major part of our drive towards a cleaner, greener county and we are really grateful to First Bus South for their major investment in Somerset’s future. 

Councillor Dixie Darch, Leader Member for Climate Change and the Environment, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to start the process of electrifying buses in in the county and will ultimately have huge benefits for the wider environment and communities in Somerset.” 

First Bus South’s Managing Director, Simon Goff, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing electric buses to Somerset, supporting cleaner, greener travel in the county.

"We’re making a major investment of £12.5m in this project, which shows our strong commitment to our passengers and bus services in Somerset.

"We’ve worked in close partnership with Somerset Council to get to this point, and we cannot wait to get these vehicles on the road.   

“This is a vital project will improve travel for our customers who will benefit from these state-of-the-art vehicles, including improved air quality and a much better journey experience overall. It’s also exciting news for colleagues as we start to transform and secure the future of our Taunton depot.  

“We’re proud to be a leader in sustainable transport, and this marks an exciting point for bus travel across Somerset. “ 

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said:  “As part of our plan to improve local transport across the South West, we’re providing over £2 million to roll out 25 brand new zero-emission buses across Somerset. 

“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.”