All new London buses to be zero-emission by 2034

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A commitment by the Mayor of London to deliver a 100% zero-emission bus fleet in London has been brought forward by three years

As the UK prepares to host the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that all new buses ordered by Transport for London (TfL) for the capital will now be zero-emission, building on its recent achievement of making its entire bus fleet compliant with Euro VI emission regulations as required by its Low Emission Zone (LEZ). Making all of London’s buses zero-emission will save four million tonnes of carbon by 2037, and moving the date forward to 2030 will save an additional one million tonnes, TfL says.

TfL already has 950 zero-emission buses on the road or on order. With the market now more mature and expanding in the UK, TfL said it can guarantee that it will only purchase new zero-emission buses, so that a fully zero-emission network can be delivered three years earlier than planned in 2034. However, the UK Government is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 68% by 2030. With Government support, TfL says it can bring London’s bus fleet into the scope of delivering on that target and achieve a fully zero-emission fleet by 2030.

The announcement came as the Mayor hosted the zero-emission bus summit. Organised by the Campaign for Better Transport and TfL, the summit saw representatives from central and local government, bus operators, manufacturers and wider stakeholders meet on Friday 17 September at City Hall to drive forward the uptake of zero-emission buses across the UK – see page 10 for more details.

TfL believes that making London’s large bus fleet zero-emission will give British bus manufacturers confidence in acquiring large orders for alternative-energy buses, enabling them to ramp up production and achieve economies of scale, helping local authorities to progress towards zero-emission targets that would not be possible otherwise. The Mayor said that the acceleration of London’s shift to zero-emission is bringing down costs and enhancing products for the entire country, and with committed funding from the DfT, TfL can ensure that the Government’s commitment to 4,000 zero-emission buses can be achieved faster.

With London making up a third to half of all new bus orders in the UK in any given year, increasing the number of these buses in the capital is also supporting 3,000 jobs across the UK, including at the Alexander Dennis factories in Scarborough and Falkirk, Switch Mobility near Leeds and Wrightbus in Ballymena, TfL said.

The Mayor said: “In the year of COP26 and after setting out my ambition for London to be net zero by 2030, I’m committed to do all I can to help clean up the transport network and reduce its emissions. London’s toxic air is a shameful health crisis which is causing premature deaths and stunting the growth of children’s lungs. Today, as part of our work to tackle both the harmful emissions we breathe and the climate emergency, I am proud to announce that London will no longer procure new diesel or hybrid buses and will only procure zero-emission buses. The announcement builds on the progress we’ve already made tackling toxic air pollution. I’ve worked hard to ensure TfL’s entire bus fleet across now meets the ULEZ standards, this includes 550 zero-emission buses. We need to act now and accelerate the transition to a greener future, with cleaner air for all.”

Louise Cheeseman, TfL’s Director of Buses, added: “The world has woken up to the desperate need to make big changes to tackle the climate emergency, and the single biggest thing we can do is to move to a zero-emission bus network as soon as possible. We’ve done everything possible to make the bus network clean and now we are focussed on making it green, which is why it’s so important that we’re able to commit that all new buses in London will be zero-emission. We’re now working to have a completely zero-emission bus network as soon as possible, and with Government support we could do this by 2030 while also stimulating the bus market. Every town, city and region has a part to play in reducing the country’s carbon emissions and addressing climate change. The Zero Emission Bus Summit is bringing together all the key players in the bus industry, local and national government and other stakeholders to share best practice and turbo-charge the movement to zero-emission nationally.”

Norman Baker, from Campaign for Better Transport which is chairing the Bus Summit, said: “Buses are already one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel and this announcement will make them even greener, further reducing carbon emissions and air pollution. But there needs to be more support from central government in the form of additional funding, building local authorities’ capabilities, speeding up the roll out of charging infrastructure and encouraging more people to choose the bus.”

Paul Davies, President & Managing Director of Alexander Dennis, said: “Transport for London’s accelerated investment in zero-emission buses is great news for the environment and the people of London as much as for the communities and businesses across the UK where these buses will be designed and manufactured, not only helping to underpin skilled jobs and apprenticeships but providing the strong foundation that the UK bus industry needs to prosper both domestically and internationally. The UK Government has the opportunity to further strengthen Britain’s bus manufacturing industry and its world-class expertise in clean bus technology by enabling an even faster transition through additional funding for London.”

All London buses now meet or exceed Euro VI emissions standards. RICHARD SHARMAN