Coaches and buses to face charges under Greater Manchester CAZ plans

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Private cars are exempt from the proposals, leading to criticism from operators and industry figures

Older vehicles, like this First Manchester Alexander ALX400-bodied Volvo B7TL, will incur a £100 daily charge from 2021. ANDY STOPPARD

Local authorities in Greater Manchester are bidding for £116m in Government funding to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the city.

Under the plans, unveiled on 26 February, from 2021 all non-Euro VI coaches and buses wishing to enter the city region (and drive on any roads other than motorways) would have to pay £100 per day. Meanwhile, from 2023 pre-Euro VI minibuses will be charged £7.50 per day.

To support operators in the area, the proposals include a number of clean vehicle funds. A £59m ‘Clean Freight Fund’ would encompass LGVs, minibuses, HGVs and coaches, and would be offered to operators looking to retrofit existing vehicles or replace them with compliant models.

Additionally, £29m would be made available for a ‘Clean Bus Fund,’ which would both support retrofits of Euro IV and V buses and help accelerate the adoption of an electric bus network.

Private cars are not included in the proposals, as charging motorists would have “disproportionately, negatively affected more deprived communities” according to Clean Air Greater Manchester.

Ian Humphreys, Managing Director of First Manchester, commented: “We fully support the need to improve air quality and the environment across the Greater Manchester area.

“We are however disappointed to learn that additional taxation is to be used as the first key step in the plan as it is not helpful and an added burden on those who will ultimately pay and may not be able to afford it – especially those in the more deprived communities we serve.

“Bus passengers should be encouraged and rewarded for their choice of travel mode rather than being penalised as they are making a contribution to improving our environment.”

Stagecoach Greater Manchester responded to the proposals on Twitter, writing: “We are really disappointed by the clean air proposal announcement.

“This is a stealth tax on bus passengers and does little to address the real issue. We’re calling on our customers to challenge this decision with their local Councillors, MPs and the Mayor.

“We agree that air quality is important and have been investing in this for years. Bus is not the biggest contributor and is part of the solution, so we don’t believe our customers should be the first to be targeted.”

Gary Nolan, Chief Executive of Manchester’s OneBus partnership, harshly criticised the announcement: “It’s very disappointing that buses are being singled out by this tax and it’s passengers who will suffer in the end.

“This bus passenger tax does not tackle the biggest source of pollution in Greater Manchester – and that’s cars.

“The Mayor has powers to tackle congestion – which makes bus journeys slower, sometimes unreliable and less attractive to car users – but he and his team at Transport for Greater Manchester have, for some unknown reason, chosen not to use them.

“The result of this inaction is that we have an unsustainable number of cars on our roads. And it’s not going to get any better if you’re slapping a tax on bus passengers from 2021.”

Local authorities in Greater Manchester are bidding for £116m in Government funding to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the city.

Under the plans, unveiled on 26 February, from 2021 all non-Euro VI coaches and buses wishing to enter the city region (and drive on any roads other than motorways) would have to pay £100 per day. Meanwhile, from 2023 pre-Euro VI minibuses will be charged £7.50 per day.

To support operators in the area, the proposals include a number of clean vehicle funds. A £59m ‘Clean Freight Fund’ would encompass LGVs, minibuses, HGVs and coaches, and would be offered to operators looking to retrofit existing vehicles or replace them with compliant models.

Additionally, £29m would be made available for a ‘Clean Bus Fund,’ which would both support retrofits of Euro IV and V buses and help accelerate the adoption of an electric bus network.

Private cars are not included in the proposals, as charging motorists would have “disproportionately, negatively affected more deprived communities” according to Clean Air Greater Manchester.

Ian Humphreys, Managing Director of First Manchester, commented: “We fully support the need to improve air quality and the environment across the Greater Manchester area.

“We are however disappointed to learn that additional taxation is to be used as the first key step in the plan as it is not helpful and an added burden on those who will ultimately pay and may not be able to afford it – especially those in the more deprived communities we serve.

“Bus passengers should be encouraged and rewarded for their choice of travel mode rather than being penalised as they are making a contribution to improving our environment.”

Stagecoach Greater Manchester responded to the proposals on Twitter, writing: “We are really disappointed by the clean air proposal announcement.

“This is a stealth tax on bus passengers and does little to address the real issue. We’re calling on our customers to challenge this decision with their local Councillors, MPs and the Mayor.

“We agree that air quality is important and have been investing in this for years. Bus is not the biggest contributor and is part of the solution, so we don’t believe our customers should be the first to be targeted.”

Gary Nolan, Chief Executive of Manchester’s OneBus partnership, harshly criticised the announcement: “It’s very disappointing that buses are being singled out by this tax and it’s passengers who will suffer in the end.

“This bus passenger tax does not tackle the biggest source of pollution in Greater Manchester – and that’s cars.

“The Mayor has powers to tackle congestion – which makes bus journeys slower, sometimes unreliable and less attractive to car users – but he and his team at Transport for Greater Manchester have, for some unknown reason, chosen not to use them.

“The result of this inaction is that we have an unsustainable number of cars on our roads. And it’s not going to get any better if you’re slapping a tax on bus passengers from 2021.”

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