Transport for London’s (TfL) says it has achieved a “major milestone” in tackling air pollution as the capital’s 9,000 buses all now meet, or exceed, the Euro VI emissions standard - the same emissions standard as the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).
The move has meant the proportion of transport nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions coming from TfL’s buses has reduced from 15% to 4%.
Around £85 milion has been invested in retrofitting older diesel buses to meet or exceed the Euro VI emissions standards since 2017. Each retrofitted bus emits up to 95% less NOx emissions and 80% less particulate matter (PM) than before.
As part of the retrofit programme, 12 Low Emission Bus Zones were introduced to tackle the worst air quality hotspots outside central London, including high streets and town centres in Brixton, Haringey and Putney. The routes have led to a 98% reduction in hourly exceedances on Putney High Street since 2016.
Overall, more than 400 all-electric buses have been introduced and around 300 additional zero-emission buses are expected to join the fleet by the end of this year.
There are plans for 2,000 all-electric buses to be in operation by 2025, with the aim of all of London’s 9,000 buses being zero-emission by 2037.
TfL has outlined to Government that, with ongoing financial support, it could accelerate this programme to make all buses in London zero-emission by 2030.
Claire Mann, director of bus operations at TfL, said: “Londoners deserve to breathe clean air. Toxic air kills, reduces life quality and, as the pandemic has shown, leaves people more vulnerable to other threats.
“We’ve already seen how much retrofitted buses can clean up the air in busy London hotspots, and now with our retrofit programme complete on our core fleet the whole of the city will benefit from improved air quality.
“This programme has made our diesel buses as clean as they can be, but we are determined to go further.
"We will press ahead with our electrification programme and investments in other green technology to ensure all buses in London are zero emission by 2037 or hopefully, if additional financial support can be found, sooner.”