Caerphilly could become the first town in the UK to have an all-electric public transport system after a £2.9 million grant award from the Department for Transport.
The money will be spent by bus firm Stagecoach on 16 new electric vehicles with the company also investing £3.6m as part of the scheme.
Alongside the planned electrification of the railways, due for completion in 2023, Caerphilly town could be the first fully-electric public transport hub in Britain.
The £6.5m “ground-breaking” project, is supported by Caerphilly County Borough Council, the Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority, and Welsh Government.
Nigel Winter, Managing Director of Stagecoach in South Wales, said: “These new zero emission vehicles, which will also be fitted with next stop audio visual technology, will help to significantly improve the customer experience and reduce C02, N0x and particulates improving local air quality and encouraging commuters to switch from the car to greener and smarter bus travel.
“Working with the public sector and technology partners, it is part of a wider ambitious plan to create an all-electric passenger transport network for Caerphilly, with new electric trains from 2021 and a further electric buses bid.”
Stagecoach’s plans will see the new e-buses replace conventional Euro III vehicles – based at its Caerphilly depot in Bedwas. The money will also be used to install 26 charging points at the depot.
The first of the planned single-decker vehicles are expected to go into service from 2020. New MetroCity and Solo vehicles, each with a range of up to 190 miles per full charge, with a capacity to carry between 28 and 44 passengers will be built by UK bus manufacturer Optare.
Cllr Sean Morgan, deputy leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “This really is significant news and is a major step forwards in our shared vision to make Caerphilly one of the greenest transport hubs in the country.
“Our ambitious plans to lead the way in the UK through delivering a sustainable transport strategy are taking shape, and we must commend our partners Stagecoach for their commitment and investment – as well as that of the Department for Transport. We clearly have a shared vision to make Caerphilly, in the heart of the City Deal region, one of the greenest town centres in the country.
“As well as the significant environmental benefits that this announcement brings, passengers will be able to benefit from emission free journeys on brand new vehicles, with faster journey times in an environment that offers a genuine alternative to travelling by car in order to access employment and leisure opportunities.”
News of the bid to the Department for Transport was first reported in September last year.
The original plan was for 21 buses, but bids were scaled down following advice from civil servants. The company has said it intends to bid again for more funding in the future.
The £2.9m grant is part of a wider £48m package of national funding from the UK Government to introduce low-emission buses.
UK Government Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Buses are far more than a way of getting from A to B. They are a crucial tool in the fight against loneliness and it is good to see the industry taking steps to tackle isolation.
“This government is doing more than ever before to reduce emissions across all modes of transport and I’m delighted to see the bus industry putting itself at the forefront of this.”