City Council is also looking at applying the same rules for taxis and licensed private hire vehicles.
Oxfordshire County Council has applied to government to set a limit on nitrogen dioxide emissions as part of plans with Oxford City Council to make the city a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ).
The authority is the first in the country to propose setting the bar at the Euro 5 level, a restriction which would require buses to produce less than two grams of nitrogen oxide per kilowatt hour. The average UK bus currently produces five grams.
Since 2009 bus operators have invested in low-emission buses, including hybrids, leading to about a 60% reduction in emissions – but the council claims many older vehicles remain in use.
If agreed, the LEZ would mean all local buses operating within the city will have to meet the highest ‘Euro 5’ standards. Buses which do not meet the standard would have to be replaced or refitted with an exhaust treatment device. Engines will also have to be switched off at bus stops when the vehicle is stationary for more than a minute.
Rodney Rose, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “Oxford is a beautiful city and we want the centre to be as attractive as possible for people to enjoy. Huge steps have already been taken to improve the air quality but there is still more that can be done.”
Oxford City Council is also looking at applying the same rules for taxis and licensed private hire vehicles.
Reacting to the news, a Stagecoach spokesman told CBW: “We already have a modern fleet of cleaner engine buses, including one of the UK’s biggest fleets of electric hybrid double-decker vehicles, which have already made a major contribution to greener travel in the city. We have also worked with Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils to deliver a new integrated bus network for the city that requires fewer vehicles and offers passenger benefits such as smartcard ticketing. Next year, we will also be introducing on-bus eco-driving technology designed to improve fuel efficiency and lower emissions as part of a UK-wide investment by Stagecoach.
“The real issue in Oxford is the increasing problem of traffic congestion and the environmental impact from cars. We believe the biggest difference to air quality in the city could be delivered by the councils looking closely at how road space is being used. Investing in additional traffic management measures to improve journey times and reliability for bus passengers would also encourage even more people to switch from the car to greener, smarter and better value bus travel.”