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November 14 2018
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

It's time to get a grip of local emissions policy

Recognition that low traffic speeds need to be tackled is imperative

Clean air zone. Low emission zone. Ultra-low emission zone. Call them what you will. They have been one of the topics du jour for the coach and bus industry for some time now.

Coach operators claim that they have been overlooked where the financial burden of complying with the relentless push for Euro 6 is considered.

That’s a fair point, but while the bus sector has received some money to support its transition in some places, it is woefully inadequate.

What is the most ridiculous part? It’s the fact that some local authorities (LAs) fail to recognise two things.

One is that they can play a major part in the debate with stricter parking enforcement and by reducing on-street spaces. By definition, increased traffic speeds will reduce pollution.

The other is that some LAs ignore the fact that coaches and buses – again, by definition – contribute to improved air quality because, when a high-quality service is delivered, they remove cars from the road and deliver emissions per passenger kilometre that are much lower.

Instead, the accelerated move towards Euro 6 with little in the way of external support stands to make services less attractive than they are currently. That’s due to the cost of retrofit or new vehicle purchase, which will be passed on to customers in the form of higher fares or increased hire charges. As a result, cars – which are more polluting per passenger kilometre, remember – become more attractive to discretionary users.

And so the cycle repeats. More cars, more pollution, more focus on improving air quality and the low-hanging fruit of the coach and bus industry comes into the crosshairs once again.

All for the want of politicians who will make decisions that may not be popular with the masses.

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