Bus operators have marked the start of year two of Glasgow's Low Emission Zone (LEZ), which will see a significant increase in the proportion of city centre bus journeys that must be made on low emission vehicles.
As part of the phased implementation of Glasgow's LEZ (which presently affects local service buses only) at least 40% of journeys through the city centre will now be made by buses that meet the required emission standard, and follows significant investment by operators into their fleet.
Introduced in December 2018 to reduce emissions and protect public health, Glasgow's LEZ is Scotland's first, and is modelled to reduce levels of harmful air pollution from road traffic that particularly impacts upon the very young, the elderly and those with existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.
This latest investment by the main city operators follows on from the initial year one LEZ requirement that not less than 20% of bus journeys through the city centre are made by low emission vehicles; and will contribute towards improving air quality, ensuring our vibrant city centre is a cleaner, healthier and more pleasant place to be.
By the end of 2022, 100% of buses travelling through Glasgow city centre are expected to meet LEZ emission standards, at which time the LEZ will broaden in scope and become applicable to all other vehicle types, including taxis and private cars.
Cllr Anna Richardson, Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said; "I'm delighted that the bus operators have reached this low emission milestone as part of the phased introduction of Glasgow's LEZ. It's a testament to their commitment to improving air quality and providing an improved experience for passengers that they have made such a substantial investment in their fleet. We've introduced a range of measures to tackle city centre congestion, for example new bus gates, that encourages a shift towards alternative travel options such as bus, offering it up as a convenient and sustainable alternative to the car. The council has worked very closely with bus operators to phase in the LEZ and we'll continue to work in partnership to improve services that are vital to the lives of Glaswegians."
Paul White, Director of CPT - Scotland said; "Bus is an enabler of better air quality. It is responsible for less than 5% of Scotland's road transport emissions and one bus can replace 75 private cars. Operators have accelerated fleet investment to further improve the environmental credentials of Glasgow's bus network. In turn the sector hopes to see the council continue to invest in bus infrastructure and limit car use in line with the objectives of the National Transport Strategy. Closer partnership working, supported by the Government's £500m Bus Partnership Fund, will not only improve air quality, but deliver a quicker, more reliable, more comprehensive bus network for Glasgow. Thereby making modal shift from the private car to more sustainable modes not only viable but appealing."
Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director for First Glasgow, said: "We are delighted to have met the challenge of getting our fleet 40% compliant ahead of the Hogmanay deadline this year. I would like to praise our highly skilled staff for their professionalism in delivering not only the new bus roll outs across the last 12 months, but also a complicated retrofit programme which has seen us transform a total of 40 mid-life buses that go through the LEZ into Euro 6 compliant vehicles. This is an achievement that has taken a significant amount of investment from operators to reach and the requirement will only increase as we enter the next phase. New government support for retrofitting vehicles is awaiting approval from the European Commission and the delay is stalling further retrofit investment. I am sure all partners would agree that clarity on this support is eagerly awaited."
Fiona Doherty, Managing Director at Stagecoach West Scotland, said: "At Stagecoach West Scotland we are committed to reducing our environmental impact and are proud to be playing our part in supporting Glasgow's Low Emission Zone. It's extremely satisfying to have surpassed Glasgow's low emissions target this year and 2020 is set to see Stagecoach West Scotland provide even more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways to travel. The current standard requires 20% of our vehicle journeys to comply however we already have a compliance level of 75%. We know that some of our customers make choices on how they travel based on carbon footprint and reaching a 75% fleet compliance level for our buses ensures minimal environmental impact. Some people may be surprised to know that buses in Glasgow account for only 3% of carbon emissions and the bus industry is proud to be at the leading edge of low carbon transport."
Sharon Morrison of West Coast Motors (owners of City Sightseeing Glasgow and Glasgow Citybus) said; "As a transport provider we're fully committed to investing in cleaner, greener vehicles and shall continue to work in partnership with Glasgow City Council to improve our local environment and encourage more people out of cars and onto bus. We are in a state of climate emergency and it's important to recognise bus offers the smarter and more sustainable way for both locals and visitors to commute and explore Glasgow. Cars in our city are a major contributor to the growing level of damaging congestion. One double decker could easily take up to 75 cars off and help reduce our city's issue with congestions. We would ask car users to give bus a try, they might be pleasantly surprised."