New bus for London - Ultra Low Emission Zone

MQT on 2013-05-22
Session date: 
May 22, 2013
Question By: 
Stephen Knight
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you expect your New Bus for London to meet the future emission standards for vehicles entering your planned ultra low emission zone from 2020?


Answer for New bus for London - Ultra Low Emission Zone

Answer for New bus for London - Ultra Low Emission Zone

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, Stephen, this is a question about whether the New Bus, the cleanest, greenest diesel hybrid of its kind, the cleanest, greenest diesel hybrid of any kind in the world, is going to comply with the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and I think the blunt answer is, I wish it could, but I think it unlikely that it will be compliant by 2020, in the same way that it is going to be very difficult for heavy goods vehicles to be compliant by 2020. There are some categories of vehicle, because of the very, very heavy loads that they are obliged to carry, it is difficult (with the current technology that I can see) to imagine an electric vehicle of the kind that I think we both want to see, or a hydrogen vehicle of the kind that we would all love to see, being able to do that with the current state of technology and looking at the relative cost of those technologies.

Electric buses have made great progress; I am a great supporter of electric buses. At the moment, the electric bus that I am really interested in and that the transport service thinks has the most promise for London is a single-decker. I am not aware of a double-decker electric bus that has a realistic prospect of being on the road by 2020.

Stephen Knight (AM): So, just to clarify, you are telling us that the New Bus for London is unlikely to be eligible to operate within the ULEZ from 2020?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, of course it will be eligible to operate, because the ULEZ will be constructed so as to be commonsensical. In the case of vehicles, which have to carry huge weights, you may have access to technology, Stephen, with your Lib Dem labs, you may have come up with some new engine powered by cucumbers or something, but that has yet to be discovered by science, but I am not aware of it so far. Perhaps you have a policy for nuclear-powered buses but we do not have them yet.

Stephen Knight (AM): Mr Mayor, we would hope, would we not, that the standard of science and the technology will advance over the next seven years so that the standard of buses will advance over seven years, and the emission of buses, and no doubt by 2020 there will be electric vehicles available or hybrids.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): For double-deckers?

Stephen Knight (AM): I have no doubt there are already electric buses available.

Darren Johnson (Chair): No, the Member is questioning you, not the other way around.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I have answered his question.

Stephen Knight (AM): We would hope, would we not, that the standard of emissions of the generation of buses that are available in 2020 will be much cleaner than the generation of buses today. Is the difference not, with the New Bus for London, Mr Mayor, that unlike other buses, which have a five to seven-year life in London and then are moved out, the New Bus for London is supposed to be with us for 15 years because it is being bought by TfL. We are locking in today's technology for the next 15 years and we are going to be operating in 15 years' time 15-year-old diesel-powered buses within, apparently, your ULEZ. Is that really what Londoners would understand by an ULEZ?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes. I think Londoners are full of massive commonsense and realise that at the moment, and you may have some superior insight, as I say, you may have the technology now or can see a way forward quickly to a zero tailpipe emissions double-decker bus that can be produced at reasonable cost.

Stephen Knight (AM): So will all buses be exempt from the ULEZ; is that what you are telling us?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Sorry, could I just finish. So far TfL does not think that is likely and what we are working on at the moment are zero tailpipe single-decker buses, which show a great deal of promise, electric buses or indeed hydrogen buses. The question is going to be cost. What the New Bus for London offers is the cleanest, greenest double-decker hybrid currently in existence and that is a fantastic achievement by London and it is a fantastic thing for British technology and you should be in favour of a triumph of British technology that is generating jobs in this country and if you are seriously suggesting that the economic prospects of this city and this country are going to be advanced by endlessly buying in buses from elsewhere around the world, when we are producing in Britain, in the United Kingdom, the cleanest, greenest hybrid double-decker bus already, I think you are completely nuts, and we should be going forward with a programme for cleaner buses and that is what we are doing.

Stephen Knight (AM): Is that what you are telling us; that diesel buses will be exempt from the restrictions of the ULEZ?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, the answer is, of course, but what the people of London are hearing is that the Liberal Democrat policy is to ban double-decker buses; they want to ban our red bus, I mean that is the logical conclusion of what you are saying. You want to ban double-decker buses from the streets of London by 2020. Only a Liberal Democrat could do so. It grieves me that our coalition partners could lack any sense of history, beauty, decency.