Mayor launches first Low Emission Bus Zone to tackle toxic air
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today delivered the capital’s first ever Low Emission Bus Zone in one of the most polluted areas of London, Putney High Street. The clean bus zone, which runs a total of 145 buses on seven scheduled routes, will now be serviced by cleaner buses in a bold move to cut harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
The route, running from Putney Station to Putney Bridge Road, is the first of 12 new Low Emission Bus Zones to be introduced at air quality hotspots. The zones represent the most extensive network of clean buses of any major world city. These hotspots expose Londoners to some of the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, and they contain older buses which contribute significantly to road transport emissions.
The routes are one part of a major transformation the Mayor has asked TfL to deliver to reduce emissions from London’s bus fleet, including the phasing out of diesel-only buses and a commitment to purchase only hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018.
Polluted Putney High Street exceeded hourly legal levels of nitrogen dioxide on 1,248 occasions in 2016. Under EU rules, the limit shouldn’t be exceeded more than 18 times in a year.
A poll of 1,000 Londoners found that 88 per cent think air pollution is a big problem, with 66 per cent citing air quality as bad in their local area and 72 per cent calling on ministers to do more.
From today, only buses that meet the toughest emission standards will be permitted to run within the Putney Low Emission Bus Zone. Putney High Street will also have effective bus priority measures in place to keep bus delays to a minimum and reduce unnecessary pollution caused by sitting in traffic.
It is also proposed that all single-decker buses operating in central London will be zero emission from 2020, taking the number of these vehicles up to around 300.
The launch follows a recent City Hall poll, in which nine out of ten Londoners said air pollution is at a ‘crisis’ level. A report released by the Mayor last week showed that every London borough has recorded illegally high levels of air pollution in the last two years, with Wandsworth having some of the highest levels. Wandsworth has exceeded the annual mean limit for NO2 pollution at five out of six of their automatic monitoring stations, with the sites on Putney High Street recording levels more than double the legal limit.
An air quality report released by the Mayor last week showed that every London borough has recorded illegally high levels of air pollution in the last two years
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
London’s toxic air is an outrage and I promised to make cleaning it up one of my top priorities. Today, I’m delivering on that pledge by introducing our first ever Low Emission Bus Zone. I have asked TfL to remove the oldest, dirtiest buses from our streets and this new route, along with the 11 others we’ll be introducing, will make a big difference to the pollution caused by our public transport system. I now need other cities around the world to work with me to demand cleaner bus technology so we can phase out diesel buses altogether.
There is nothing more important to me than safeguarding the health of Londoners. I’m doing everything in my power to both transform London’s bus fleet and target areas with the worst pollution so that the streets we live and work in are better places to be.
However, I can’t do this alone. That’s why I am repeating my call to the Government to take their responsibility seriously and introduce a national diesel scrappage fund to help get the most polluting vehicles off our roads and to give me the powers to tackle other sources of air pollution.”
Eleven more Low Emission Bus Zones will follow Putney, with the Brixton and Streatham zone set to be introduced in October. The remaining 10 zones will be delivered by 2020, fulfilling the Mayor’s manifesto commitment.
The upcoming zones — which are all outside of the central Ultra Low Emission Zone — include Stratford, Harringay and Edgware. Thousands of school children will benefit from their introduction, with 172 schools located within 100 metres of the new zones. In addition, the benefits of operating the greenest buses will be felt across the capital as the buses operate the full length of their routes. The changes are expected to reduce bus emissions across the 12 zones by over 80 per cent.
Putney’s new Low Emission Bus Zone follows the investment of £135,000 from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund in the London Borough of Wandsworth to deliver a series of interventions in and around Putney High Street, including working with businesses to reduce deliveries and congestion.