Caerphilly County Borough could soon be leading the way in electric-powered transport with separate plans by the council and bus operator Stagecoach being drawn-up to spearhead its use.
Stagecoach is leading a funding bid to convert its operations in Caerphilly town from diesel to electric.
If successful, more than £9m will be spent on 21 electric buses and charging points for its 11 bus routes covering the town’s surrounding areas.
Stagecoach has said it is prepared to stump up half of the cash if a bid to the UK Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme is accepted.
With the planned electrification of the railways planned for 2023, Caerphilly could be the first fully-electric public transport hub in Britain.
Nigel Winter, Managing Director of Stagecoach South Wales, said: “I believe Caerphilly would be the first town in Britain with an all-electric public transport network, covering the buses and trains in the town.
“We think an electric passenger transport network will engage and inspire the travelling public and raise the profile of efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly passenger transport options.”
Also part of the bid team is Caerphilly County Borough Council – which is also drawing up its own plans to encourage the use of electric vehicles.
Cllr Sean Morgan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said the combination of electric buses and trains would improve local air quality.
In 2008 an Air Quality Management Area was designated around Bartlett Street and White Street. It was extended in 2013 to other streets.
Cllr Morgan said: “It would also give passengers a modern, attractive public transport network that offers emission-free journeys on brand new vehicles, with faster journey times in an environment that offers a genuine alternative to travelling by car to access employment and leisure opportunities.”
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “Caerphilly’s bid, which could lead to it becoming the first UK town to provide a fully-electrified public transport system, is the kind of ambition we need to see in our push towards reaching our clean air targets and reducing our emissions by at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.”
The plan by Stagecoach is to install more charging points at its depot in Bedwas so that other services, such as Bargoed to Newport, could be switched to electricity later.
Businesses and the council could also charge their vehicles while the buses are in use.
Meanwhile, the council is also drawing up separate, but related, plans to increase the use of electric vehicles generally.
It will set out proposals to support the installation of electric vehicle infrastructure and how electric vehicles can be a “fundamental part of the council’s own fleet.”
The number of new electric and hybrid vehicle registrations in Wales rose by 35% last year, with 82 electric vehicle registrations in the Caerphilly County Borough.
However, there are currently no publicly available electric vehicle charge points in the county borough and only 439 across Wales.
The ambitious strategy will see the council “lead by example incorporating electric vehicles into our fleet and trial new technologies as they evolve.”
Its aims include providing electric vehicle infrastructure across the county borough.
A council report considered at a recent meeting said: “A strategy to support the implementation of electric vehicles and electric vehicle charge points is required to progress this important work.
“This will put into place the infrastructure to support our staff and residents to invest in electric vehicles and encourage visitors who drive electric vehicles to visit the county borough.”
The plan, described as an “innovative approach” for electric vehicles, will also promote installing infrastructure to support electric bikes, electric mopeds and other electric vehicles.
It will support introducing an “integrated network” of charge points, working with other councils as well as private developers and landowners.
Raising awareness of the benefits of using electric vehicles will also form part of the strategy.
The UK Government recently announced plans to ban new diesel and petrol vehicles from sale in the UK from 2040, while vehicle manufacturers work to advance technologies in electric vehicles.
• Additional reporting by the Local Democracy Reporters Scheme.