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Funding boost will accelerate city’s work to clean up bus emissions

Published on Tuesday, July 9, 2019

First bus at Haymarket bus station

MORE buses on Leicester’s busiest routes are set to be adapted to make them cleaner to run as part of the city’s efforts to cut air pollution.

The Department for Transport has awarded the city council £980,000 from the Clean Bus Technology Fund to help it extend work to clean up exhaust fumes and cut harmful emissions from buses in Leicester.

The city council is already working with local bus companies to fit the pollution filters to 158 diesel buses operating on the city’s main routes.

This latest funding will see the council work with local operators First and Kinch Bus to see filtering technology retrofitted to 53 more buses.

It means that an ambitious bid to create a city centre clean air zone for buses – where all vehicles must meet the highest Euro VI standard for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions – will be delivered in early 2020, around nine months earlier than promised.

Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor and lead on environment and transportation, said: “Tackling emissions from diesel vehicles is a vital part of our work to improve air quality across the city.

“Our local bus operators have already made huge investment in cleaning up the emissions and reducing pollution from their vehicles. This latest funding will allow us to accelerate that work and fit clean air technology to over 50 more local buses.

“It means that we are meeting the highest European clean air standard for buses across the city and that we are on track to meet our pledge to deliver a citywide clean air zone for buses early in 2020.

“While this is really good news, we know more needs to be done and we remain committed to moving the city’s bus fleet towards zero emissions over the next ten years, with plans already underway to introduce the first electric buses onto our Park and Ride services from next year.”

Sue Blount, general manager at Kinchbus, said “Kinchbus is a locally owned independent company, meaning every decision we make is made by those with an interest in the well-being of the local community and the efficiency of the local transport system.

“We are doing what we can to improve the air we breathe in the communities we serve. This funding will complement our ongoing investment in cleaner, greener buses.”

Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director of First Midlands commented “We’re delighted that in partnership with Leicester City Council we’ve been granted funding to substantially upgrade many of our fleet of buses based here in Leicester.

“Together with our existing vehicles already achieving the highest Euro VI standards of emissions, this new funding will ensure that more local residents across our network will be served by buses with excellent environmental credentials – all the more reason to consider using the bus”

The Euro emissions standards for buses is are a technical measure defined by engine energy output in grams per kilowatt hour (g/kWh). The Euro VI standard for nitrogen dioxide is just 0.4g/kWh.

As part of its successful bid for £8milllion of Government cash from the Transforming Cities Fund, Leicester City Council has also secured £1.6million to help replace diesel vehicles with ultra-low emission electric buses on the Park and Ride service between Birstall and the city centre.

The project – which is expected to be delivered by autumn 2020 – will help further cut air pollution on the busy A6 corridor into the city centre.

Improving local bus services is one of a range of actions being carried out by the city council to tackle the climate crisis.

Experts now predict that unless drastic action is taken, we are less than 12 years away from global heating becoming irreversible, with catastrophic results. In response, Leicester City Council declared a climate emergency in February 2019.

Local initiatives such as creating more cycle tracks in the city, promoting sustainable transport, setting up a renewable energy company, installing more solar panels on council buildings and promoting take-up of electric vehicles are already under way.

The council also plans to consult on charging employers with parking spaces and investing this income in schemes to further reduce transport emissions.

With Government support, the city council could be on track to be carbon neutral before 2030.