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Cutting emissions from the worst polluting buses in the city

Air quality is in the news a lot lately and people living in Cardiff frequently raise concerns over health risks associated with traffic pollution.

They will be pleased and relieved to learn that Cardiff Council, Welsh Government, Cardiff Bus and Stagecoach have taken steps to lower air pollution from the worst offending city buses.

In fact, forty-nine of the most polluting buses operating in Cardiff will be retrofitted with exhaust clean-up technology to reduce the total Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions from these vehicles by 97%.

The retrofit upgrades will ensure that the buses fitted with the technology will emit the same amount of NOx as a modern bus with a Euro V1 (6) engine.

Poor air quality is recognised as the largest environmental risk to health, with Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter identified as the biggest concern to human health. The council devised a Clean Air Plan with just over £19m of Welsh Government funding to reduce NO2 levels in the city centre – specifically Castle Street – in the shortest time possible.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: 

“Breathing clean air and having access to a healthy environment is a right, not a privilege. That’s why we must take decisive and lasting action now for the benefit of current and future generations.

“We welcome Cardiff Council’s scheme that will both improve air quality in our capital city and contribute towards a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous Wales.”

The successful business case for the Clean Air Plan, submitted to Welsh Government, outlined the council’s plans to reduce emissions from buses and taxis, as well as re-designing the roads in the city centre, to allocate more road space to cyclists and pedestrians.

The retrofitted buses will be used along specific routes in the city – identified as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA’s) – where air quality is recognised as a concern in specific communities. To see the AQMA route, click here: https://laqm.defra.gov.uk/images/aqma_maps/cardiffcitycentreaqma5.jpg

Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cllr Caro Wild, said:

“The council is committed to improving air quality in the city, which in turn will improve public health. Travel by public transport – specifically by bus – has clearly been impacted by the pandemic, but I am confident that the industry will bounce back, as many residents rely on travelling by bus as part of their everyday lives.”

Following the successful applications by both Cardiff Bus and Stagecoach to the Clean Air Fund, a total of £561,612 has been awarded to the bus companies. £191, 920 has been awarded to Cardiff Bus to retrofit 20 buses, and £369,692 has been awarded to Stagecoach to retrofit 29 vehicles, which is 80% of the cost to buy and install the equipment. The bus operators will cover the remaining 20% of the cost.

Nigel Winter, Managing Director of Stagecoach in South Wales said:

“We are delighted to have been awarded funding for the bus retrofit exhaust scheme, to meet low emission standards as part of Cardiff’s Clean Air Project. With Stagecoach contributing funding of £92,000, the project will allow us to retrofit 29 vehicles to Euro VI standard, reducing nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution through the installation of accredited specialist exhaust technology. Car traffic on the road contributes to harmful emissions and air pollutants, one bus may take the place of up to seventy cars on the road, rather than contributing to the problem – buses and coaches very much form part of the solution.

“Buses are a vital component in renewing our economy and keeping our communities connected, helping deliver a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Stagecoach has previously invested in 31 Euro V1 buses which already run in Cardiff. With the 29 buses retrofitted exhaust systems all Stagecoach buses in Cardiff will be of Euro VI standard from 2021. We will continue to work with the Welsh Government and the Local Authorities to drive forward the Clear Air agenda, improving the air quality for our local communities and future generations.”

David Conway, Service Delivery Director of Cardiff Bus, said:

“We are delighted to have been successful in our bid for the Clean Bus Retrofit Scheme funding. Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government has been instrumental in tackling air pollution in the city and this scheme is going to allow us to make our own contribution towards improving Cardiff’s air quality. 

“The benefits of travelling by bus as opposed to car are becoming increasingly evident, not only for improving the health of the city’s residents but it is also a safer and cheaper mode of transport.”

Inksplott