The Scottish Government has recently awarded a further £6.2m in grants to 20 Scottish bus and coach operators to help with the financial costs associated with engine and exhaust retrofitting.
The fourth round of the Bus Emission Abatement Retrofit Fund (BEAR) will see 379 older buses and coaches adapted to achieve the Euro VI emission standards required of Low Emission Zones across Scotland through the installation of accredited retrofit technology. This brings the total number of mid-life buses and coaches to be upgraded through the BEAR scheme to over 1,000.
Glasgow's LEZ is Scotland's first - introduced in 2018 and modelled to reduce levels of harmful air pollution from road traffic which we know disproportionately impacts upon the most vulnerable, including those with existing heart and lung conditions. LEZs are key to improving air quality, protecting public health, and supporting Scotland's wider climate change ambitions by encouraging more sustainable transport options.
This most recent round of vehicle retrofits represents the latest stage in investment from the Scottish Government, as well as bus operators, in improving fleet emissions and tackling air pollution in Glasgow.
Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: "I'm delighted to announce this funding for bus operators in and around Glasgow to retrofit mid-life buses - adding to the £12.4m we have invested through the BEAR programme in the previous three rounds. We know buses will have a key role to play in our world-leading ambition to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030, as well as helping to support the delivery of Scotland's Low Emission Zones. We all want our air quality to be the best in Europe, but for the oldest and youngest in our society and those with existing health conditions it remains an issue. These bus and coach retrofit systems will reduce emissions of harmful pollution to improve local air quality and benefit public health as we introduce LEZs in Glasgow and our other three biggest cities next year."
Cllr Anna Richardson, Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said; "The continued uptake of BEAR funding is excellent news and I'm heartened that the city's bus operators continue to back cleaner air, with their ongoing work to make fleet changes that ensure more and more of their vehicles meet the cleaner emission standards required by Glasgow's Low Emission Zone. The phasing in of Glasgow's LEZ is making good progress and we remain committed to encouraging a shift towards alternative travel options such as bus - positioning this mode of transport in the long term as a viable and sustainable alternative to the car. Ensuring Glasgow is served well by a high-quality bus service will help us deliver on our commitment to improve air quality to protect public health and ensure the city centre is a vibrant place to live, work and visit."
Phase 1 of Glasgow's LEZ applies to buses only, however when Phase 2 is enforced from 1 June 2023, all vehicles entering the city centre zone must meet the required emission standards to avoid a penalty unless the vehicle is exempt.
Glasgow's LEZ has made good progress to date. A report from SEPA published last year, provides strong evidence that air quality in Glasgow has improved since the introduction of LEZ Phase 1 which has seen a marked increase in the number of cleaner, greener buses running through our city centre. The report also provides a clear rationale for the need for the next phase to be implemented, to further improve air quality and public health.