© Reuters.

LONDON – FirstGroup PLC, a leading UK transport operator, has announced its commitment to achieving a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035 as part of the nation’s broader effort to decarbonize commercial transportation. The company, which operates over 4,500 buses and serves more than one million passengers daily, is on track to integrate over 600 electric buses into its fleet by March 2024.

To support this ambitious transition, FirstGroup has established a joint venture with Hitachi (OTC:) Europe. This collaboration follows the successful decarbonization project at Glasgow’s Caledonia depot, which commenced in May 2022. The move towards a greener fleet is facilitated by substantial financial backing, including a £96M syndicated loan from NatWest specifically for battery leasing. Additionally, a £150M Hire Purchase facility has been arranged for the acquisition of electric bus bodies.

The funding is further bolstered by government-backed schemes such as ScotZeb and Zebra, which aim to aid financing for environmentally friendly transport solutions.

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