Warning not to cut London buses as passengers recover

Sadiq Khan has announced that all new buses ordered by Transport for London will be zero-emissions by 2034, aiming to completely decarbonize the fleet.

TfL’s 9,000-strong fleet already has around 550 zero-emission buses, including the UK’s first hydrogen-powered buses launched in June.

But ahead of the COP26 climate change summit in November, the Mayor of London announced that TfL will no longer purchase diesel or petrol-powered buses as he wants to highlight the date when London’s entire bus fleet will be zero-emissions from 2037 to 2037. 2034.

Sadiq Khan hosted a zero-emission bus summit at City Hall on Friday, bringing together representatives of central and local government, bus operators and manufacturers to promote the use of zero-emission buses across the country.

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Ahead of the event, Mr Khan said: “London’s toxic air is an embarrassing health crisis that is causing premature deaths and stunting the growth of children’s lungs. Today, I am proud to announce that as part of our work to tackle both the harmful emissions we breathe and the climate emergency, London will no longer buy new diesel or hybrid buses, but only zero emission buses.

“Today’s announcement builds on the progress we’ve made in tackling toxic air pollution. I’ve worked hard to make sure TfL’s entire bus fleet now meets ULEZ standards, including 550 zero-emission buses. We must act now and transition to a greener future with cleaner air for all. We have to speed it up.”

The number of passengers using London’s buses is gradually improving, with passenger numbers currently at 71 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

But there are fears that a Government-mandated review of service levels, a condition of the latest emergency financing deal for TfL, will be used to justify cuts in bus services.

The review, originally scheduled for July, was postponed to September as passenger numbers are still low after quarantine restrictions were relaxed.

As the bus usage investigation continues, Sadiq Khan warned that this would only provide a “instant figure” and urged the Government not to make permanent changes to TfL due to “temporary issues”.

Gareth Powell, TfL’s general manager of ground transportation, said: “We argue to the government that now is not the time to cut services. Coming out of the pandemic, we invite everyone to the buses, to the city, to the West End, to do whatever you want. Now is not the time to drastically cut services as we are recovering from a pandemic.”

Over the long term, TfL “expects to reduce the capacity of the bus network by around four percent,” Powell said.

Powell said these cuts will focus on central London and that additional rail capacity, such as the Crossrail and Northern Line extension, is expected to offset the reduction in bus frequency.

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