Brighton & Hove Buses has published a report with a proposed plan of action to tackle the public health impact of poor air quality in the city.
The publication, called Brighton & Hove: The Clean Air City, is pitched as a blueprint for the role of sustainable public transport in a future where mass transit will be more essential than ever in urban environments.
The report comes after last week’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee report into air quality stated that reducing private vehicle use by improving public transport and encouraging active travel ‘should be at the heart of any clean air strategy’.
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.”
The vision of the future outlined in the publication supplements what has already been developed by the city council and partners with ambitious proposals that continue to raise the game for the health of the city’s communities and visitors.
The report highlights the essential role of partnership-working to deliver the infrastructure required for emissions-free electric and hydrogen fuel-cell powered mass transit.
Martin said: “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.”
The report specifically calls for joint-working to combat increasing congestion – without which buses attract fewer passengers which generates less money to invest in wholly emissions-free buses.
Martin said: “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.”
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.
The company promises to begin to phase in electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses from 2020 – but no later than 2023 – or as soon as the technology becomes available to meet the requirements of running the size and range of bus operation required by customers in Brighton and Hove.
In the meantime, Brighton & Hove Buses pledges to continue replacing older buses with newer generation nearly emissions-free models to bridge the transition period while it works with the council and other partners to bring together the infrastructure to deliver emissions-free electric and hydrogen fuel cell powered mass transit.
Martin said: “A third of our fleet is now so technologically advanced these buses are already nearly emissions free. This is a very good place to be in the interim while we work our way towards an emissions-free future.”
The report, which focuses on tailpipe emissions, states the bus service would expect to be running a city-wide fully emissions-free service of 270-300 vehicles by 2030.
The report lists some quicker wins that could benefit the city more immediately such as redesigning the Clock Tower junction to smooth the flow of buses, reducing car parking spaces on all new developments, bringing in city-centre congestion-busting measures such as changes to the movements and stopping of general traffic and introducing a loading management strategy.
The report will go to councillors with important decisions to make on the future of the city and to Brighton & Hove City Council officers working on sustainable transport strategies.
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