Fifty buses are to be upgraded as part of a project as part of efforts to cut levels of air pollution in Stoke-on-Trent, with the council also still considering bus gate proposals with the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU).
It is believed that the bus retrofit scheme alone will be enough to bring NO2 emissions on the Bucknall New Road to acceptable levels – but further measures will be required on Victoria Road in the city, said the council.
According to the Stoke Sentinel report to the council’s cabinet said: “Whilst details of the final proposals to be submitted to JAQU to enable compliance to be met are being finalised, one part of the solution for all three sites that is not subject to further review is to improve bus emissions.
“Work has already been undertaken with bus operators to identify the vehicles required to be retrofitted on each corridor. This has resulted in a total of fifty vehicles being identified for retrofit. This is the basis on which our air quality modelling has been based.
“JAQU has indicated they wish to progress the bus retrofit element ahead of agreement on the final wider scheme. For the Bucknall New Road corridor, it is the sole intervention that is required to ensure compliance.”
Bus operator First Potteries has requested an additional £92,000, which would allow 10 older vehicles to be replaced rather than retrofitted.
Nigel Eggleton, managing director at First Potteries, said: “We welcome the decision by the Department for Transport in approving £800,000 to be spent on upgrading the technology that controls emission particles emitted from buses within our fleet.
“It is important to us as a local business to be working together with partners to improve air quality and bus provision across the Potteries area. We have submitted a further request for consideration to replace some of the older buses in operation, which could make a significant improvement to our customers journey experience when traveling by bus.”
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Plans for a bus gate on Basford Bank are set to go head after receiving the support of the city council, Newcastle Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council.
The government has told the councils that NO2 levels at all three hotspots have to be reduced to acceptable levels by 2023 at the latest.
NO2, the main source of which is vehicle exhaust, can cause or exacerbate various respiratory conditions, such as asthma and COPD.