London commits to ‘tenfold’ increase in electric buses

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has promised to increase the number of electric double-decker buses running on the capital’s roads by ‘more than tenfold’ from next summer.

The announcement comes as city leaders from across England and Wales meet today in the capital, to discuss measures to tackle air pollution at a national and local level (see airqualitynews.com story).

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has promised an increase in the number of fully-electric double deck buses operating on the capital’s roads

Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that the 68 new buses will be added to London’s bus fleet from next summer on two routes (43 from Friern Barnet to London Bridge Station and 134 from North Finchley to Tottenham Court Road) run by Metroline.

TfL trialled five fully-electric double-deck buses on route 98 from Willesden to Holborn in 2016, which continue to operate in the capital. The buses emit zero-NOx from the tailpipe, meaning that there is a lower impact on urban air quality through their operation.

The new buses are being manufactured by both a Chinese/British partnership between BYD and Alexander Dennis Limited and British company Optare and have a range of up to 190 miles on one charge.

Next year, TfL aims to have 240 electric buses running on the network and for all new double-deck buses to be zero-emissions or hybrid, with every single-deck bus in central London to be zero-emission by the following year. Ultimately, by 2037 all buses in London will be zero-emission, City Hall has said.

Claire Mann, TfL’s director of bus operations, said: “We’re committed to reducing emissions from London’s buses and making routes 43 and 134 exclusively electric is an important step to a zero-emission fleet. Buses are crucial to reduce Londoners’ reliance on cars, and with this landmark order it means the largest pure electric double-deck bus fleet in Europe will help reduce emissions across the capital. Electric buses are good for air quality and improve the customer experience, with less noise and fewer vibrations, all creating a more comfortable journey.”

Summit

Ahead of the summit in the capital today, city leaders have issued a call to government to bring forward its proposed target date for the end of the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars, which has currently been set for 2040. Cities are instead calling for government to bring forward the ambition to 2030.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today’s summit is a historic moment for the country. Leaders from across England and Wales have never met in such numbers to tackle our nation’s toxic air quality. It shows how serious our problem is and how committed we are to tackling it.

“In London we’re helping to lead the way with my Ultra Low Emission Zone, and I’m delighted to be able to announce a Europe-leading new fleet of electric double-decker buses too. We’re doing all we can to improve our air quality and we need the government to match our ambition to solve this national health crisis.”

At today’s meeting, where leaders from Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and the West Midlands will meet Environment Secretary Michael Gove, politicians will seek to identify ‘common priorities and share best practice’ to reduce pollution, nationally and in cities.

Campaign

Ahead of the summit, which is before National Clean Air Day on Thursday, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees has called for a UK-wide campaign led by government to help cities like Bristol fight harmful traffic emissions that contribute to the death of 300 Bristol citizens per year.

He said: “Bristol has been hugely successful in making our transport systems more sustainable – with significant increases in walking, cycling and using public transport, in addition to converting buses to clean fuels. But we need to do more as air pollution is seriously affecting the long-term health of Bristol citizens, from long-term lung damage in children to contributing to heart and lung disease in older people. It is unacceptable that lives are at risk because of air pollution, particularly when it is having a detrimental impact on low-income households with fewer transport options.

“That is why we need to work with the government to ensure they recognise the challenges we are facing. Cities can offer valuable insight at a local level, which needs to develop alongside national plans to ensure they are fair and work for everyone. We need the government to show leadership with a way to support low-income, vulnerable families and small businesses that rely on diesel vehicles to be able to shift to cleaner cars.”