Brighton & Hove Buses – the company which operates much of the bus service in the south coast city – has called for widening of the city’s Low Emission Zone to improve air quality.
The company, a part of Go Ahead Group, has this week published a ‘blueprint for sustainable public transport’ in the city, seeking to provide a ‘constructive contribution’ to the debate around air quality.
Within the report, the transport company calls for Brighton & Hove council to build on the existing Low Emission Zone, set up in the city in 2015, which has a requirement for buses operating on major routes in the city to meet at least the Euro V emissions standard (see airqualitynews.com story).
In the publication, the bus company proposes a new LEZ with a lower threshold for polluting emissions with scope to extend geographically in the future as well as to other vehicles.
Brighton & Hove Buses has pledged to continue replacing older buses with newer generation models as well as promising to phase in electric and hydrogen fuel cell models from 2020.
The report states that the bus service would expect to be running a city-wide fully emissions-free service of 270-300 vehicles by 2030.
Elsewhere, the company has called for a joint-initiative with the local authority to combat congestion, which it claims acts as a barrier to uptake in bus services.
Brighton & Hove Buses’ managing director Martin Harris said: “Air pollution in our cities and towns is a problem for everyone and no one organisation can tackle it alone. We’ve been deliberately ambitious with the report and intend it to be a constructive contribution to the debate as well as a sign of our commitment to help clean up our city, deliver a fully-sustainable bus service and advocate to car drivers it’s time to switch to cleaner transport.
“It will take a multi-agency approach, and require a bus priority strategy, a congestion strategy and an energy strategy that addresses public transport needs. The council is best placed to convene delivery partners to bring about reliable emissions-free infrastructure so it becomes possible to invest in clean energy supplies in a less volatile environment than we have at the moment. Only then can mass-transit fleets on the scale of ours be replaced wholesale.
“Congestion and pollution come as a package so a frequent and reliable bus network is critical to tackling the air quality problem. One full double decker bus takes up to 75 cars off the road – that’s a very big reduction in emissions, congestion and traffic jams. And when you scale that up to the size of a city, it would be a really big step in cleaning up the air we breathe.â€?
Brighton & Hove Buses’ report comes ahead of a meeting today, when the city council’s Air Quality Programme Board will discuss the council’s progress to date in addressing air pollution.
Issues to be discussed include work to clean up emissions from the city’s bus fleet, which has included securing funding to retrofit 76 buses and 22 taxis with clean air technology.
The board will look at potential actions including expansion of the LEZ, tighter restrictions on vehicle emissions including taxis, and introduction of the city’s first Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to improve air quality in a specific area.
Commenting ahead of the meeting of the city council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, Councillor Gill Mitchell, the committee’s chair, said: “Air pollution is now recognised as the UK’s largest environmental risk to public health, contributing to heart and respiratory diseases, and lung cancer.
“The setting up of the Air Quality Programme Board is a very important step in the council playing a leading role in creating a single, joined-up approach to cutting air pollution in our city and improving air quality.
“A lot of work has already been done in partnership with the bus companies through the Quality Bus Partnership (QBP) and we look forward to working with them even closer in the future.â€?