The CCR Regional Transport Authority has reported on the rapid, positive progress made on its ULEV initiatives – despite the Covid-19 backcloth and the immensely challenging environment that has created.
By way of background, in May 2020 Welsh Government (WG) awarded the Region £1.296m from its Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Transformation Fund to deliver initiatives intended to assist WG to transform the network to ULEV and help reach their targets of zero emissions from buses and taxis by 2028. The award constituted the highest award made in Wales, followed a bid made by Merthyr Council in February 2020 on behalf of the CCR.
The schemes proposed included the delivery of electric vehicle infrastructure for public use, taxis and private hire specific, and buses at various locations, including transport hubs throughout the region.
Subsequent to the award, and despite the challenging environment presented by Covid-19, progress has been made on each of the areas as follows:
Taxi EV infrastructure plan in delivery and due to complete by end of June 2021
SWARCO has been awarded a contract to deliver 34 chargers at 31 sites throughout the Region and a concession agreement has been reached to manage and maintain the infrastructure, with the Region benefitting from a growing shared return on investment over the lifetime of the contract. Installation of the infrastructure is intended to be completed within the next 5 months.
ULEV Taxi “Try before you buy scheme” to launch in the summer
Funding has also been awarded from the same fund, to deliver a ‘Try before you buy’ scheme for taxi drivers to encourage them to transition to 100%, London compliant, wheel chair accessible vehicles. Orders are currently being placed for 50 Nissan Dynamo taxis to allow taxi drivers / operators the opportunity to try before they buy for one month per driver. The scheme will run over a 3 year period. The intention is to purchase 34 of these taxis before the end of March 2021, with a further 10 vehicles being supplied in early April. 6 of these vehicles will be purchased for use in Denbighshire and Pembrokeshire, and the other 44, to be kept within the CCR. It is expected that the scheme will be operational late June / early July.
Cardiff Council are also considering a Lease Hire Scheme, funded by the WG Clean Air Fund, and which could potentially expand to the Region longer term. Both of these programmes will closely align.
Educational webinars scheduled for March
In recognition of the fact that transitioning to a ULEV vehicle is a major decision, and one that for many operators may have more questions than answers, an initial taxi webinar is currently being prepared with an expected delivery date of 11th March 2021. The first webinar is intended to educate and inform on a number of matters including available incentives and financing options, tax and insurance implications, range and reliability concerns, charging considerations -at home and roadside, and maintenance provision. The aim is to provide all the necessary information to enable taxi drivers and operators to make informed choices in respect of transitioning to 100% electric vehicles.
Significant Progress made in identifying appropriate sites for expanding charging infrastructure
112 sites have been identified and costed to deliver public use charging infrastructure throughout the region, including locations such as on-street, public car parks and transport hubs. A bid has been submitted to the WG ULEV fund to deliver this capability in the 2021/22 financial year, and further locations are also being considered over and above those already identified by Local Authorities.
15 sites have also been identified and costed to deliver a bus use charging infrastructure. Similarly, a bid has been submitted to WG to fund their delivery in 2021/22.
The results of both bids are expected late March 2021.
The tangible progression of the ULEV initiatives and associated funding, particularly in such difficult times, is a big step forward in the ambitions for not only improving the transport infrastructure of the Cardiff Capital Region but also for the reduction in emissions and noise pollution. By delivering regionally, it will ensure that operationally, the end user will have a uniform process for using charging infrastructure across all 10 Local Authorities, with payment methods and infrastructure being dependable and user friendly. Initiatives such as these will help Wales play its part in tackling climate change and the CCR will continue to work with the other regions within Wales to try to ensure comparable and compatible infrastructure throughout Wales.
Further next steps will include the consideration of hydrogen, renewable energy and digital technology required to truly embrace the zero emissions agenda and the new technologies that could be developed to future proof such projects in line with the Well-being of Future Generations Act and vision.
A full Energy vision and strategy for the CCR has been created in collaboration with WG Energy Service and more information will be available on the initial implementation plans in the Spring.
Huw David, Chair of the CCR Transport Authority, said:
“I am delighted with the excellent progress we are making on these initiatives. We have a real opportunity here for the CCR to lead the UK, to be an exemplar region in both the deployment of EV infrastructure, and in the subsequent take up of ULEVs. We have the ambition, the plans, the right networks and collaborative working practices, and the ability to deliver at pace and at scale.
“The delivery of this programme will help us realise our vision for the future of transport, sustain real behavioural change and put the region on a pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with taxis and buses accelerated much earlier in line with the Welsh Government’s 2028 target.”