The government will invest £48 million to help councils introduce more environmentally-friendly buses, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

Councils and bus companies across England and Wales will be allowed to bid for a share of the fund, which they will then use to buy low-emission buses.

According to the DfT, the money will see ‘hundreds’ of eco-friendly buses introduced, as well as paying for the infrastructure to support them.

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Transport minister Nusrat Ghani said: ‘We are doing more than ever before to reduce greenhouse gas pollution across all modes of transport and we are committed to ensuring nearly all cars and vans are emissions-free at their tailpipes by 2050.

‘In order to achieve this ambitious target, the transport sector is going to have to change dramatically over the next couple of decades – and buses are no exception.

‘We are confident this scheme will encourage councils and operators to invest in these ultra-low emission vehicles - speeding up the full transition to a low emission bus fleet in England and Wales.’

Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: ‘Today’s announcement is a fantastic step in the UK’s fight against air pollution and we’re delighted that the government has recognised the important and vital role that buses play in helping reducing harmful emissions. The cleanest diesel buses emit fewer emissions overall than the cleanest diesel cars, despite being able to carry 20 times more passengers.

‘Buses are also the lifeblood of our communities, connecting families and getting people to work. Today’s announcement sends a positive message that the government is serious about connecting the communities it serves and committed to putting the bus at the heart of the clean air solution.’