The Scottish Government has launched an initial 1.6 million round of funding to support bus operators in reducing emissions in their vehicle fleets.
Up to 25,000 per bus is available through the Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit Programme (BEAR) which is being delivered by the Energy Saving Trust. Bus operators running services on routes in any of the 14 regions where Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have been set up are eligible for the funding scheme, with bids invited before 23 February.
The programme is aimed at encouraging fleet operators to equip their vehicles with accredited emissions abatement technology that will bring the vehicles in line with at least the Euro VI standard. Buses must be less than 10 years old, and have at least a five-year remaining service life to be suitable for funding.
Exhaust after-treatment systems for diesel buses such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, which injects urea into the exhaust stream to reduce NOx emissions; or diesel particulate filters for reducing PM emissions are among the current retrofit options available for funding through the scheme.
Funding for the retrofit programme sits alongside the Scottish Governments commitment to have four Low Emission Zones in place in the four biggest cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, by 2020.
Glasgow has been tasked with implementing the first of the four zones which is expected to have a zone in place before the end of 2018.
The city council has outlined initial proposals as to how it may seek to implement an LEZ, having put an initial focus on bus-dominated streets where buses are thought to contribute up to 80% of nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, said: I am delighted to announce this extra support to assist financially with the costs of reducing air pollution emissions from buses. There is no doubt that the bus sector is playing a vital role in improving our air quality. Many bus operators have already taken advantage of the previous seven rounds of the Scottish Green Bus Fund, where over 16m of funding has resulted in over 360 new low emission vehicles being brought into the fleet.
For many operators, the right decision is also to invest in retrofit technology for their existing fleet. This will breathe new life into older buses, reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions and help to progressively improve the quality of the air in our towns and cities.
We all want our air quality to be the best in Europe, but for the oldest and youngest in our society and those with existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, air quality remains an issue. It is critical that we have LEZs introduced in our four biggest cities by 2020 and this fund will help support our ambition to improve our air quality.”
Matthew Eastwood, head of Scottish transport at EST said: We are delighted to be supporting the Scottish Government and bus operators by delivering the BEAR programme. Buses play a key role in keeping Scotland moving and are an important part of the solution to air quality in Scotlands towns and cities.
George Mair, director for CPT Scotland said: The bus industry has invested over 250m in the last five years on greening Scotland’s bus fleet, improving the performance of what is already one of the most environmentally friendly modes of travel. The BEAR Programme fund, alongside the Green Bus Fund, are two schemes that facilitate further investment, but the real benefits of this investment are only realised when buses are given priority and freed from congestion.
CPT will continue to work with the Scottish Government and Local Authorities to ensure that Low Emissions Zones recognise the importance of bus and encourage sustainable and active travel.
Scottish Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit Programme