CTA’s response to DFT’s consultation regarding the ending of sales of non-zero emission mini buses.
CTA recently responded to DFT’s consultation regarding the ending of sales of non-zero emission minibuses, CTA welcomed the opportunity to provide evidence on the challenges in moving to a zero-emission fleet for the community transport sector, sharing our guidance on what an appropriate end of sales date might be, and add comment on the extent of government intervention necessary to accelerate the transition for our sector. To read the full response please follow the link here
Overview of our response
CTA is of the opinion that a just transition to net zero for the community transport sector to be achieved there needs to be a clear and consistent UK wide Community Transport decarbonisation strategy, which supports not-for-profit organisations transition by giving long term assurance over capital investment for decarbonisation, as well as planning based on the needs of the sector. Decarbonisation for the CT sector is complex and challenging given the lack of suitable zero emission vehicles on the market which meets the needs of the service users and the cost of replacing traditional internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles with zero emission vehicles. There is also the lack of suitable infrastructure which meets the needs of the community transport sector though we appreciate this opportunity to consult on the phasing out of ICE minibuses the sector is concerned it will be left behind if a strategy for decarbonisation is not put in place.
Key points raised within the response
Infrastructure & Electricity Supply – For transitioning to be successful there needs to be an extensive role out of high-speed electrical connections in both the depots and in the community with the electricity supply to deliver the charging network requirements.
Cost of Zero-emission vehicles – For not-for-profit operators the expense of purchasing the vehicle is too much to be able to undertake without some form of government financial support helping with the transition from diesel to ZEV’s. CTA is concerned that for operators, the cost could be a barrier for them to continue their services given that many of the operators run with very modest income and do not have a means to generate a profit to invest in the ways that commercial operators can.
Range – There are several issues when it comes to addressing the issues regarding the current range of ZEV’s. The range of ZEV falls short of the needs of operators especially operators working in rural communities, given rural terrain and a lack of mid-journey charging infrastructure, CT operators are unable to undertake the same level of journeys, thus impacting the service delivery to the members who use the service.
Lack of zero-emission minibus options and waiting times for delivery – There is a lack of ZEV options meeting the diverse needs of the CT sector on the market, with limited choice for ZE minibuses, the needs of the operator delivering the service may not be met. Be it a vehicle which can hold the number of wheelchairs that are needed, a low floor ZE minibus or the space on the bus for the passengers who are older/ living with a disability to sit comfortably for the journey. Engagement is needed with the community transport sector from the zero-emission minibus developers, getting them to understand the needs and requirements of the sector. CTA would be very keen to support this joining up of the sector with the vehicle manufactures and voice the sector’s needs and concerns. Supply chain issues are leading to extensive waiting lists for ICE vehicles, this has been caused by production delays which were created over the pandemic. This is now further exasperated with the impact the Ukraine war has had on manufacturing and the impact of Brexit on the import market. Concerns are being cited within the CT sector, that if this is the case for the established ICE market that these challenges will be even more prevalent in the less developed ZE minibus market.
Weight of electric minibuses – Community Transport operators have weight restrictions that they must operate within to be eligible for their permits. The weight of electric batteries restricts the options to choose from and many of the smaller zero-emission minibuses on the market are not meeting the needs of the community transport sector and most importantly the people who utilise the service. Community Transport Association is calling on the DFT to seriously consider a review on the weight restrictions in place for license holders as a work around to help community transport operators transition quicker to ZEV’s and not being restricted with the weight of the vehicle given the limited zero-emission minibus options on the market which meets DFT’s and other devolved nations weight limit.
Within the response it was also covered off, what would be a realistic end date for non-zero emission vehicles, what would need to be true/ in place to make the phase out of non-zero emission minibuses happen and a commentary on what the government could do to accelerate the transition to low emission vehicles. In conclusion we stated that CTA would call on the government to give serious consideration to the points raised throughout this consultation without losing sight of who the Community Transport sector serves. It is delivering services which connect communities, delivers services for the most vulnerable of society including our elderly and those with disabilities and is presently adding immense value in terms of modal shift and decarbonisation by virtue of reducing the need for individual single vehicle journeys. The sector is operated by a dedicated network of staff, many of whom are voluntary who provide an invaluable service they are proud of, they play an important and often unseen role, and they need our support. The community transport sector needs support from the central government departments in the UK, across the devolved nations, in city decarbonisation planning and across local governments. If the government wishes for the sector to phase out sooner there would need to be extensive investment in infrastructure and the development of technology which meets the needs of the sector. CTA is keen to work with the government on the planning and delivery of the decarbonisation of the community transport sector and we feel we are best placed to be able to help facilitate that with governmental support.
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.