After Brexit and that small matter of a General Election, air pollution is the topic on everyone’s lips. And the conversation just got toxic.
Experts tell us it’s reached crisis proportions: responsible for 40,000 early deaths a year and is affecting the health of millions of people across the UK. It’s only now becoming widely known that car emissions testing has not been based on real world conditions.
And the Government has had its knuckles rapped twice by the High Court over its attempts to tackle the problem – first for producing plans the judges deemed woefully inadequate, the second for wanting to delay publication of a revised draft until after the election. It is due to be released on Monday (May 9).
For the bus industry, air quality has been the main topic of conversation for years. Progress in clean diesel bus technology has dramatically outsmarted that of diesel cars. Bus emissions are tested in the real world not in a lab.
The highest standard (Euro 6) clean diesel buses reduce nitrogen oxides emissions by 99 per cent. The equivalent state-of-the-art diesel car – let alone a bog-standard old model – emits ten times more per passenger.
At Brighton & Hove Buses, we’re wholly committed to operating in a safe, socially and environmentally-responsible way. We’ve been assiduously working towards zero emissions capabilities with our vehicles, improving the efficiency of engines and reducing the carbon impact of fuel.
And we’ve invested millions of pounds to make it happen. By the autumn we’ll have 82 highest standard (Euro 6) clean diesel buses on the road. We’ve brought in hybrid buses that operate in both electric and diesel mode. We’ve converted older models with retro-fit technology (with the help of council funding). We’ve phased out all older standard – higher emitting Euro 3 buses. And we’re currently trialling two electric buses to see how they might cope with the size of our operation and the topography of the city.
We take responsibility for the air quality in our city. We are consistently ahead of the Low Emission Zone objectives – currently one year ahead of target – and expect our efforts to bear fruit in the next set of air quality data for North Street.
Every journey by bus is greener. On a recent survey of the Coast Road bus lane we discovered that almost half the people travelling into the city (48 per cent) were on board two per cent of the vehicles – buses. A full double decker can take up to 75 cars off the road. According to a new report by Greener Journeys, bus priority measures can reduce emissions by 75 per cent.
The air quality in our city will remain the main topic on our lips but what we’re interested in is taking the toxins out of the conversation.
A shorter version of this first appeared in the Brighton Argus on Saturday May 6, 2017.