London funding uncertainty casts doubt on future Wrightbus orders

The mayor of London has called for funding certainty for public transport in the capital during a visit to a bus plant in Northern Ireland.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 7:54 am
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan during a visit to the Wrightbus' Ballymena factory to see the London electric double decker buses being made by the Northern Irish manufacturer.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan during a visit to the Wrightbus' Ballymena factory to see the London electric double decker buses being made by the Northern Irish manufacturer.

Sadiq Khan visited the Wrightbus factory in Ballymena, Co Antrim, where he viewed previously ordered new electric double-decker buses which are due to appear in London in October.

The buses are the first electric double-deckers to be manufactured for London in Northern Ireland and will be rolled out in October on route 111, linking Kingston to Heathrow. However, Mr Khan said without funding certainty he was unable to give clarity on future demand.

“Londoners will soon see the all-electric buses we previously ordered built at this Ballymena factory on the capital’s roads, adding to our ever increasing zero-emissions bus fleet and illustrating how investment in our capital can support innovation and jobs in green technology across the country,” he said.

“This is a prime example of how TfL’s supply chain stretches throughout the UK, supporting jobs, capacity and certainty for the national move towards a zero emission bus market, helping to clean up our filthy air.

“Each new electric bus operating on the streets of London relies on great manufacturing outside our capital and means less reliance on fossil fuels.

“However, as it stands the government’s short-term funding deals are trapping TfL on life support and putting innovation, economic growth and jobs like this at risk, as well as slowing our efforts to improve energy security.

“I urge the government to engage with TfL and city hall in good faith over the next few weeks so that we can finally agree a fair, longer term funding deal that will protect London’s transport network – for the sake of the capital and the whole country.”

Wrightbus chief executive Buta Atwal said they were delighted to welcome Mr Khan to the factory.

“We’re looking forward to seeing them on the roads of London and helping to improve air quality later this year,” he said.

“We design and manufacture our buses in Northern Ireland using parts that are, as much as possible, made and sourced in the UK and we directly employ almost 900 people, with many thousands more supported throughout the UK supply chain. As a result, every new Wrightbus-made zero-emission bus for the capital is not just good news for air quality in London, but for jobs across the UK.”

Louise Cheeseman, Transport for London’s director of buses, added: “What we are seeing in Ballymena is the green industrial revolution in action.”

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