York council approves Clean Air Zone for buses

City of York Council has approved £1.6m of funding for bus companies to transition to low-emission vehicles, as part of a Clean Air Zone that will come into force from 2020.

From January next year, any bus that enters the Clean Air Zone in York city centre five or more times a day must be an ultra-low emission bus standard, with firms allowed to continue using higher-emission buses until 2021 if they show they have measures in place to transition.

Ultra low emission buses (ULEBs) are those that have no exhaust emissions, such as electric buses, or have significantly reduced pollution emissions such as Euro 6 diesel buses, gas powered and electric hybrid buses.

In August 2017 the council was awarded £3.3m from the Department for Transport’s Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme to support the delivery of high capacity, fully electric buses and charging infrastructure for the remainder of York’s Park & Ride routes.

Andrew Bradley, sustainable transport manager at City of York Council, said: ‘We’ll be working with partners to reduce emissions from the local bus fleet as well as introducing more electric Park & Ride buses across the network later this year.’

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the environment at the council, added: ‘We now need to take further steps to reduce emissions from the rest of the local bus fleet. Investing £1.6m will go a great way to tackling this issue, as well as introducing more electric Park & Ride buses across the network in 2019.’

Speaking to York Press, Marc Bichtemann, managing director of First Bus York, welcomed the plans but warned that bus companies will need funding from local authorities to upgrade their fleet.

He said: ‘Without the support of City of York Council, it is likely that our services would be reduced in York as operators alone cannot meet the cost.

‘We absolutely recognise the role we have to play in improving air quality for the communities of York and we have made good progress with electric buses and the on-bus technology that comes with it.’

In December, the authority approved plans to give parking discounts of up to 50% for people driving low emission vehicles.

It is thought that the changes could affect around 200 existing discounted season ticket holders and 1,100 discounted resident parking permit holders.

In related news, Scotland’s first low-emission zone (LEZ) came into effect in Glasgow on December 31st. For its first phase, 20% of all buses that pass through the city must now meet emissions standards that comply with EU standards.