Bus legislation received unusual broadsheet press attention at the beginning of March, with the Sunday Times claiming that much of the ZEBRA fund money for new electric buses was being “rerouted abroad”.

The piece states that of 953 buses ordered through the scheme so far, around half are coming from Wrightbus of Northern Ireland or Alexander Dennis of Scotland, with the rest imported from Yutong of China, Volvo of Sweden (no mention of the Egyptian MCV bodies appears in the piece), Mercedes-Benz of Germany or Irizar of Spain.

It claims Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford is launching a legal fight against Blackpool Transport, after it first chose Yutong as its electric bus supplier and then later switched to Alexander Dennis, describing the procurement process as “badly flawed”.

The agenda of the piece is clear – too much of ZEBRA money is being spent on buses built abroad, which goes against the “buy British” rhetoric seen in the Bus Back Better policy launched by Boris Johnson in March 2021.

It also highlights the Alexander Dennis partnership with BYD, another Chinese manufacturer, though announced ZEBRA orders for Blackpool, Stagecoach in Oxford and Transdev in Harrogate are all for buses outside of the long-standing zero emission partnership. However, it’s also true that any Enviro100EVs within these orders are expected to have their structures manufactured in China.

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