PLANS for a new fleet of almost 60 publicly-owned electric buses on Merseyside are on the agenda at a meeting of the region's combined authority this week.

The intended roll-out of 58 new green, zero-emission buses - a key part of City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plans to revolutionise the city region’s bus network - will be discussed during the meeting on Friday (December 15).

A bid has been submitted to secure £31m of funding the fully-electric double-deckers, which would join the existing hydrogen buses to bolster the region’s publicly owned, zero emission fleet. The Combined Authority would match-fund with £20m of its own.

If the bid and purchase is successful the buses would be operated by Stagecoach.

In October, Mr Rotheram announced his decision to take back control of the region’s buses after nearly 40 years of deregulation.

Franchising will give the region greater control over routes, fares and timetables and the power to ensure that any profit is reinvested back into the network to improve services for passengers.

Mr Rotheram said: "Devolution has given our area the chance to build the 21st century London-style transport system that passengers deserve.

"From voting to take back control of our buses, investing in a brand new publicly owned hydrogen fleet, introducing £2 fares and bringing back the night bus, we’re transforming our network for the better.

"More people get the bus than any other form of public transport. Like with our new publicly owned trains, they deserve to travel on clean, modern and accessible vehicles.

"I’m investing to ensure that the Liverpool City Region has a bus fleet to be proud of – one that makes travelling better for passengers and for our planet too.”

The funding would come from the latest tranche of the Zero Emission Bus Regional Area fund (ZEBRA 2), which covers up to 75% of the cost difference between the zero emission vehicles and a standard diesel engine bus.