Buses central to Glasgow’s low emission zone plans

Plans for the introduction of a low emission zone in the city of Glasgow, which could be the first such zone established in Scotland, have been laid out ahead of a meeting this week (28 September).

Initial proposals look likely to centre on reducing emissions from buses operating in the centre of the city –with a focus on retrofitting older buses to improve emissions performance or to replace them with Euro VI models where possible.

Glasgow city council is to explore plans for a low emission zone which will initially focus on buses

Later phases will then focus on commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

The Scottish Government has outlined plans to have four low emission zones in place to address air quality in the country by 2020, with the first to be established by the end of 2018. Alongside Glasgow, LEZs are also expected to be established in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Guided by the Scottish Government’s National Low Emission Framework – proposals have been drawn up by Glasgow city council to establish how a low emission zone could function within Glasgow.

Ahead of the meeting on Thursday, at which the proposals will be discussed, documents submitted to the council suggest that there is a ‘clear link’ between areas of increased bus traffic and higher air pollution in the city.

Emissions

On ‘bus-dominated’ streets such as Hope Street, buses contribute up to 80% of NOx emissions the council claims.

“An initial focus on reducing emissions associated with bus movement through the city would achieve the quickest improvements in the city,” the documents note.

The report adds: “Bus services are essential to Glasgow’s transport infrastructure and the council continues to promote the use of sustainable and public transport in the city over the use of private cars. Reducing bus emissions, rather than removing or reducing bus services through the city, is clearly the objective for this approach.

“In addition to the wider public, bus passengers will benefit directly from lower exposure to pollutants at stops and en-route and therefore enjoy a healthier, cleaner means of public transport.”

The documents note that discussions have taken place with the Traffic Commissioner on the imposition of Traffic Regulation Conditions on bus operator licences as the first phase of the LEZ – but the report adds that due to the potentially ‘challenging’ 2018 timescale set out by the Scottish Government for the introduction of the country’s first LEZ, bus operators could struggle to meet such a deadline for fleet improvements.

The report concludes: “A LEZ covering Glasgow’s city centre air quality management area is capable of bringing about a significant improvement in air quality. This improvement will be targeted on the streets in Glasgow currently experiencing the highest levels of pollution in the city. The proposals made above will ensure that benefits will be enjoyed throughout the city.

“The initial phase of the LEZ will focus on reducing bus emissions. It is intended that subsequent phases will include trucks, vans, cars and motorbikes in order that all harmful sources of air pollutants are further reduced.”

Further consultation on the proposals could be launched following consideration of the plans at the meeting on Thursday.