Leicester bus companies agree on clean air zone by end of 2020

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Steve Burd, Managing Director Stagecoach Midlands; Deputy City Mayor Cllr Adam Clarke; Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director First Midlands; Alex Kerr, General Manager of Kinch Bus; City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby; Kevin O’Leary, Regional Engineering Director for Arriva; and Chris Mosley, Operations Manager, Centrebus

New agreement signed by bus operators will help ensure that Euro 6 standard for diesel buses is achieved across the city within the next three years – with a shared ambition for zero emission by 2030

Leicester’s five major bus companies have signed up to a new commitment with the city council to deliver a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) for buses by the end of the 2020.

Arriva, Centre Bus, First, Kinchbus, Stagecoach and Leicester City Council have agreed to the commitment, which will help ensure that the highest European clean air standard for diesel buses is achieved across the city within the next three years.

Establishing a CAZ for buses is one of the key priorities in Leicester’s Air Quality Action Plan, which was launched in 2015.

Since then, Leicester’s bus companies have invested over £20m in improving their local fleets; the proportion of buses with the highest standard of diesel engine has increased from 10% to 40% of the city’s 368-strong bus fleet.

Over the same period, the average emission standard of the city’s bus fleet has improved from below Euro 4 to almost Euro 5, above the target originally set out in the Air Quality Action Plan.

Under the new commitment, operators will help accelerate that progress and aim to make all of the city’s buses meet or exceed Euro 6 by the end of 2020.

The new partnership commitment also sets out a shared ambition to introduce zero emission buses into the city’s fleet by 2030.

As part of the commitment, bus operators in Leicester are to be fined if their vehicles do not meet toughened emissions regulations. According to the council, any revenue raised from the levy would be invested in projects to improve local air quality.

Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy City Mayor – who leads on environment, sustainability and public health – said: “Tackling emissions from diesel vehicles is vital to achieving better air quality. Our local bus operators are leading by example and should be applauded for their efforts and investment in cleaner air vehicles.

“Bringing emissions from the city’s bus fleet down and achieving at least Euro 4 standard was one the key aims of the Leicester air quality action plan. We’ve now exceeded that.”

Kevin O’Leary, Engineering Director at Arriva, added: “Arriva is delighted to be working with Leicester City Council on this. We are committed to positioning bus travel as a viable alternative to car travel.

“In order to do this we need to ensure that our customers are given access to transport that meets their growing expectations in terms of technology and comfort, but that also delivers with regards to environmental standards.”

Matt Evans, Managing Director at Centrebus Ltd, commented: “Centrebus is pleased to be working in partnership with the city council to help reduce harmful emissions from road transport.

“Whilst buses still generally offer the lowest form of emissions per occupant compared to other types of motor transport, we are happy to take things a stage further.”

Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director for First Leicester, said: “We understand the vital role we play in helping to find solutions to reduce air pollution and so we’re proud to be part of the Leicester CAZ for buses.

“Road congestion continues to be one of the biggest issues facing bus services and so it’s important that alongside today’s announcement, we continue to work with local authorities and other bus operators to encourage less car usage across the city and entice more people to travel by bus.”

Alex Kerr, Kinchbus General Manager, said: “Air pollution caused by congestion in our cities and towns is a problem for everyone. While no one organisation can tackle this challenge alone, Kinchbus is committed to playing a leading role.

“It’s a sign of our commitment that we’ve recently invested a considerable amount of money into brand new cleaner buses for our skylink route that will provide existing customers with a great journey experience that also tempts car drivers to make the cleaner switch.”

Steve Burd, Stagecoach Midlands Managing Director, said: “We have introduced 25 new Gold standard Euro 6 ADL Enviro 200MMCs, single-deckers on our service 48. This £4.4m investment demonstrates Stagecoach Midlands’ commitment to the Leicester Bus Clean Air Zone.

“We will continue to work with the city council and other operators to seek to achieve the desired improvements to emissions by the end of 2020.”

Leicester City Council was recently successful in a bid for £2.2m from the Government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund. This will allow the council to work with operators to retrofit clean air technology to over 100 more buses running on city routes.

For more details visit: www.leicester.gov.uk.