TfL launches no idling campaign

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Authority says switching engine on and off does not result in damage

The CPT has backed a new campaign encouraging London drivers to turn off their engines when their vehicle is stationary for more than a minute.

The campaign was launched by London mayor Boris Johnson last week and is aimed at all drivers including those of cars, buses, coaches and taxis as part of a package of measures to improve air quality, cut harmful pollution and clean up the city ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Delivered by Transport for London (TfL), the new ‘no engine idling’ campaign urges drivers of all vehicles to make a small change and switch off their engines when they are parked or when picking up and dropping off people or goods.

Backed also by Asthma UK and the Freight Transport Association (FTA), it highlights the health benefits of reducing pollution levels to both prevent and alleviate illnesses such as asthma and heart and lung conditions.

TfL said if all drivers in central London switched off their engines, rather than idling unnecessarily, for one minute each day this could reduce annual PM10 emissions (tiny airborne particles generated principally by road transport) by the equivalent of a medium sized diesel car travelling 2.5m kilometres, or making three return trips to the moon.

TfL said one common myth about engine idling is that switching a vehicle’s engine on and off would wear it out and would also use more fuel. However, ignitions in modern cars have eliminated this problem and research shows that turning off an engine and restarting it after a minute uses less fuel and causes less pollution. Switching the engine on and off does not cause any damage to the vehicle.

TfL’s managing director for surface transport, Leon Daniels, has written to coach, bus and freight operators to encourage their drivers to switch off their engines while waiting in bus stands or loading goods and will continue to work with them to reduce PM10 emissions and improve London’s air quality.

Graham Messenger, coaching executive for the CPT, said: “CPT fully supports the mayor’s Cleaner Air for London and no engine idling initiatives. We are already actively engaging with some of the London boroughs who are working to improve air quality at a local level.

“Hugely improved engine technology and investment within the bus and coach industries, together with continued research and development of improving less environmentally friendly vehicles, has seen a measured increase of their ‘green’ credentials and LEZ [Low Emission Zone] compliance across the piece.”