London to roll out low-emission bus zones along most polluted routes

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has confirmed plans to roll out the first batch of low-emission bus zones along the capital's most polluted transport routes.

A bus travels along Putney High Street, which will introduce a low-emission bus zone in February 2017. Photo: Google Maps

A bus travels along Putney High Street, which will introduce a low-emission bus zone in February 2017. Photo: Google Maps

From next February, Putney High Street – which regularly breaches diesel pollution limits - will be the first route to exclusively use hybrid or diesel buses equipped with anti-pollutant systems that meet or exceed Euro VI emission standards. A second low-emission bus zone will then be between Brixton and Streatham in October 2017.

These low-emission zones are expected to reduce bus NOx emissions by 84%.

Announcing the plans yesterday (8 August), Khan said: “It is a scandal that, in a wonderful, modern-world city like London, thousands of people are dying because the air they breathe is toxic. I am absolutely committed to speeding up our efforts and making sure I do everything possible to improve air quality in the capital.  

“Too many of London’s busiest high streets are choked with fumes and this move will improve the health of those living and working in the most polluted areas. I am determined to reduce emissions and improve London for everyone, and this is the latest in a number of changes I am making to deliver on this.”

Low-emission corridors

This plan represents the first of the low-emission zones promised by the new Mayor in his electoral campaign. The zones will ensure buses have priority over other traffic, and include plans to tackle idling and speed up journey times. It is expected that all of the zones will be operational by 2020.

The Mayor has also asked Transport for London (TfL) to lead by example in tackling the city’s bus fleet emissions through  other initiatives. Examples include: -

- Ensuring all buses operating in the central ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ (ULEZ) comply a year earlier by 2019, meaning each of the 3,100 double-deck buses operating in the zone will be Euro VI hybrid.

- Expanding the ULEZ retrofit programme to 3,000 buses outside of the central zone.

- Procuring only hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018.

TfL’s managing director of surface transport Leon Daniels said: “We’ve identified a number of routes where we can implement the Mayor’s low-emission bus zones plan quickly and efficiently.  These corridors will see quicker journeys and real lasting improvements in air quality.”

Greener London

Confirmation of London’s first low-emission bus zone comes after an announcement from the Mayor’s Office last week that air quality alert devices will be installed at bus stops, tube stations and road-sides across the capital in order to inform Londoners during incidents of high air pollution.

From next Monday (15 August), air quality alerts will be displayed at 2,500 bus countdown signs and river pier signs, 140 road-side message signs, and electronic update signs within all of London’s 270 Underground stations.

Alex Baldwin


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