Air quality boost for Brighton & Hove after funding award for cleaner buses

There will soon be more low-emission buses on the roads of Brighton & Hove after a successful bid for a government grant.

More than £250,000 will be spent to retrofit at least 17 of the city’s double-decker buses which will reduce the toxic emissions they produce, helping to deliver cleaner air for the city.

This is in addition to 73 buses previously converted under a similar scheme between 2014 and 2017 and a £17.8m investment by Brighton & Hove Buses in 54 buses which run on zero emissions through the city centre.

These newly converted buses travel through the city’s Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs). These are designated areas, including several city transport corridors, where the council has committed to better than compliant air quality and a healthier environment for all. 

Among others, the new retrofitted buses will service routes 28 and 29 on the A270 Lewes Road and London Road, which link the city’s universities with the city centre. 
The retrofitting is scheduled to be done before next winter.

£149,500 has been awarded to the council following a bid to the government’s Air Quality Grant scheme. £99,500 will come from the council’s own Sustainability and Carbon Investment Fund (SCRIF) and a significant contribution from Brighton & Hove Buses.

Let’s get technical

Retrofitting the exhausts of the most frequent older buses (registered eight to ten years ago) will convert them from Euro-V to substantially cleaner Euro-VI emission standards that cut greenhouse gas Nitrous Oxide, the reactive Nitrogen Monoxide and the harmful Nitrogen Dioxide. 

To avoid carbon to atmosphere we want to avoid scrapping vehicles prematurely.  The retrofits are a resourceful way of utilising existing bus assets, not yet nearing end of life. When the time comes to replace vehicles, we will want this to be with zero emission technology. 

Air pollution is the greatest environmental risk to human health. The quality of air we breathe affects everyone, including non-smokers, the old and young. Roadside pollution has disproportionate impacts and is a source of inequalities. 

A welcome boost for air quality in Brighton & Hove

Amy Heley, chair of the council's Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee said: “This really is very good news and I’d like to thank officers for their hard work in their successful bid, which I understand was rated very highly.”

“We have a very good bus network in the city, and we’ve seen passenger numbers continue to grow. Cleaner, low emission buses mean we can provide our residents and visitors with sustainable travel options and continue to improve our air quality.”

Opposition spokesperson Gary Wilkinson said: “It’s great to see that more of our buses will be meeting higher emission standards in the future. 

“We have excellent passenger numbers in Brighton & Hove. People can make their journeys safe in the knowledge we’re doing more to make it a sustainable and low emission option.

“Better air quality is something that benefits all our residents, visitors and businesses.”

Martin Harris, Managing Director Brighton & Hove & Metrobus said: “This is really good news in what has been a challenging year for public transport. 

“This funding allows us to continue to work towards our shared goal of improving air quality and tackling climate change.” 

“It's great that the people of Lewes and those who live, work and study along the Lewes Road and London Road will benefit from this funding.” 

New buses contribute to improving air quality

As well as future work being planned thanks to the new grant award, annual data shows that lower emissions from the city’s bus fleet are contributing to improved air quality on North Street and further afield.

One fifth of buses operating through the city’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) now run on zero emissions.

All four of the council’s Nitrogen Dioxide monitoring positions on North Street showed a reduction between 2016 and 2019, that continued during 2020.

In 2019 and 2020 air quality levels in some parts of the city centre remained above national limits; however, the exceeding area is smaller and the council will continue to work with operators and vehicle fleet managers to achieve sustained emissions reductions and healthier air.

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