Leicesterâ€™s bus operators will be charged to run non-Euro VI compliant buses within the city by the end of the decade, after signing a pledge with the city council to deliver a clean air zone by the end of 2020.
Arriva, Centre Bus, First, Kinchbus, Stagecoach and Leicester City Council have agreed to the pledge that will see them commit to using Euro VI buses in the centre of the city within the next three years.
Establishing a clean air zone for buses is one of the key priorities in Leicesterâ€™s Air Quality Action Plan, which was launched in 2015.
According to the city council, since the introduction of the plan bus companies have invested Â£20milllion in improving their fleet to increase the number of vehicles operating to higher emissions standards.
The average emission standard of the cityâ€™s bus fleet has improved from below Euro IV to almost Euro V, above the target originally set out in the Air Quality Action Plan, the council claims.
Under the new commitment, bus companies will â€˜accelerateâ€™ that progress and aim to make all of the cityâ€™s buses meet or exceed Euro VI by the end of 2020.
The new partnership commitment also sets out a shared ambition to introduce zero emission buses into the cityâ€™s fleet by 2030.
Deputy City Mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment, sustainability and public health, said: â€œTackling emissions from diesel vehicles is vital to achieving better air quality. Our local bus operators are leading by example and should be applauded for their efforts and investment in cleaner air vehicles.
â€œBringing emissions from the cityâ€™s bus fleet down and achieving at least Euro IV standard was one the key aims of the Leicester air quality action plan. Weâ€™ve now exceeded that.
â€œWeâ€™ve made good progress but more needs to be done. Iâ€™m pleased that our local bus operators share our commitment to achieving the highest Euro VI standard by the end of 2020, and to working together to deliver zero emission buses beyond that.â€
Kevin Oâ€™Leary, Engineering Director at Arriva, said: â€œArriva are delighted to be working with Leicester city council on this. We are committed to positioning bus travel as a viable alternative to car travel. In order to do this we need to ensure that our customers are given access to transport that meets their growing expectations in terms of technology and comfort, but that also delivers with regards to environmental standards.
â€œWe believe that working in partnership with local authorities is the best way to make bus travel an even more attractive choice and linking people to work, education and employment opportunities throughout Leicester.â€
As part of the joint commitment, a new levy will be introduced from January 2021 for any bus that does not meet the Euro VI standard. The operating company would be charged a daily fee for any bus not complying with the bus clean air zone standard. Any revenue raised from the levy would be invested in project to improve local air quality.
Leicester City Council was recently successful in a bid for Â£2.2milllion from the Governmentâ€™s Clean Bus Technology Fund. This will allow the council to work with local bus companies to retrofit clean air technology to over one hundred more buses running on city routes.