Reading Borough Council and Reading Buses have secured £1.53m of Government funding to upgrade 96 buses to a lower emission standard.
Reading were one of the 33 local authorities ordered by the Government to draw up plans for how they would tackle air pollution as they were identified as having roads, or sections of roads, which would exceed limits after 2019.
The council received Government funding and brought in specialist environmental consultants, Ricardo AEA, to conduct a detailed study and to computer model the impacts which any measures may have on nitrogen dioxide levels.
The measures were required to make the roads identified comply in the shortest possible time and the Government set a tight timescale to complete the study.
The study came up with a number of options and three were submitted to the Government which could deliver the changes in the timescale required. The council’s recommendation was to combine an upgrade to both the bus and taxi fleet which would deliver the greatest improvement in the shortest possible time.
The Government analysed the report and has committed to investing £1.53m to upgrade 96 buses in the town. The Government say all upgrades must be completed by the end of the 2019.
Tony Pettitt, chief finance and information officer for Reading Buses said: ‘We are pleased to be part of this project which will benefit everyone in Reading.
‘We have a long history of leading the industry in trialling, and subsequently using, new and cutting-edge environmental bus innovation and working with Reading Borough Council and the UK Government we look forward to being able to achieve the best possible outcome for the town and further reduce emissions.’
Cllr Tony Page, Reading’s lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport, welcomed the funding, saying: ‘the council cannot tackle this national problem alone and this extra funding will help deliver the improved air quality Reading residents rightly expect.’
In related news, the City of York Council this week 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.