As part of its long-term aim of improving the country’s air quality, the UK government has announced an additional £40m (US$55.6m) funding boost as part of its drive to put more low-emission buses on the roads.
Councils across the country will benefit from the new funding, which will be awarded to 20 local authorities as part of the Clean Bus Technology Fund that was launched in 2017 and is run by the Joint Air Quality Unit. The money will enable older models to meet minimum emissions standards, and councils to retrofit vehicles with technology to reduce tailpipe emissions of nitrogen dioxide, as part of a drive to help ensure that more buses and coaches can contribute to improving air quality in UK cities. Alongside this, the Department for Transport (DfT) will use the Bus Services Act as a way of encouraging councils and bus companies to look at measures to encourage more members of the public to use buses and take cars off city streets.
In 2016, the government invested £30m (US$41.7m) through the Low Emission Bus Scheme, which helped put over 300 new low emission buses on the roads, with a further £11m (US$15.3m) and 150 buses being announced in 2017. By September 15 this year, five local authorities are required to set out their final plans for bringing nitrogen dioxide concentrations within legal limits in the shortest possible time. A further 23 local authorities are required to set out their initial plans by the end of March, with final plans by the end of the year.
Speaking at the UK Bus Summit in London, Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said, “Buses and coaches are hugely important to those who rely on them, and to the communities in which these people live and work. Road transport is going to change dramatically over the next couple of decades, and we have to make sure that the bus industry is ready to benefit from those changes. We must move away from nose-to-tail car traffic at peak times, endless engine idling, stop-start travel, and rising pollution and carbon emissions. Rather than contributing to the problem, buses and coaches very much form part of the solution.”
Environment Minister Therese Coffey noted, “Poor air quality affects public health, the economy and the environment, which is why we are determined to do more. As a result of the many applications to the Clean Bus Technology Fund, the government has decided to bring forward funding and we will award nearly £40m to retrofit more than 2,700 buses.”