Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [4]

Session date: 
February 7, 2019
Question By: 
Leonie Cooper
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Question

Leonie Cooper AM:  Thank you very much, Chairman.  I just wanted to ask you about the Low-Emission Bus Zones.  It is almost two years since the first Low-Emission Bus Zone was launched in Putney High Street and it has made a huge difference to Putney High Street, although we are not quite within the European Union (EU) limits.  I just wondered if you could set out - and perhaps the Commissioner can add something to this as well - how we are going to be building on that with the network of Low-Emission Bus Zones over the next year.

 

Answer

Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [4]

Delivering the Mayor's manifesto [4]

Answered By: 
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) & Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner, Transport for London)

Sadiq Khan (Chair, Transport for London):  It is worth bringing in the Commissioner to explain the timelines for the next phase, but of the 12 Low-Emission Bus Zones, seven have begun.  We are already seeing evidence of the difference they are making to the quality of air in relation to the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) and the particulate matters that used to come from the diesel buses and also other vehicles.  We have seen huge improvements in Putney High Street in your patch.  Next to you, Assembly Member Eshalomi has seen improvements in Brixton High Street.

 

We have rolled out more.  We are ahead of schedule.  The plan is to have all 12 rolled out by the end of this year [2019] and the Commissioner will hopefully be able to confirm that.

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  Yes, absolutely, that is the plan.  The Mayor is quite right that there are seven that have rolled out already and by 2020 the full 12 will have been implemented.

 

It is worth saying that of the seven so far, the NOx emissions have reduced by an average of 90%, which is really quite significant.  The first two Low-Emission Bus Zones, Putney High Street and Brixton, have had a major impact on pollution levels with Putney High Street, as an example, exceeding legal limits for just two hours in 2018 compared to 807 hours over the same period in 2016.  That is a reduction of over 99%.  I have to say that exceeded our modelling and exceeded what we felt was going to be achieved and so I am very excited to be reporting that we are on track to deliver the remaining five Low-Emission Bus Zones.

 

Of course, that is in parallel with important work to ensure the bus fleet overall is green and clean, ensuring that we have all buses at least Euro VI-compliant across the whole fleet of London buses.  That work is also progressing very well.

 

Leonie Cooper AM:  As you can imagine, people in Putney are not excited; they are just absolutely delighted because it means that they can go shopping and you can literally see that the air is clearer.

 

I just want to press you: are we absolutely satisfied that the next five zones are definitely going to be in absolutely right places?  We clearly have these hotspots in a variety of places across London and I just want to check that we definitely have the data that shows that they are going into exactly the right places.

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  I believe they are.  I am happy to write to the Assembly Member, Chairman, to confirm that analysis and to share that analysis with you as to why we think they are the right ones, if that would be of help.  It is something that we continue to keep under review.  My ambition is that of course we do not stop here and that we keep going and keep ensuring that in parallel with the ULEZ, the first of its type of course anywhere in the world, we keep exploring new technology and keep pushing the boundaries as to what we can do to clean up London’s air wherever we can.

 

Leonie Cooper AM:  That is an important point because the Low-Emission Bus Zones do need to be seen in conjunction with other initiatives like the ULEZ.  I just wonder if you could say a bit more about how they fit together with the Healthy Streets agenda because we do hear some people suggesting that some of the changes are contributing to pollution and contributing to congestion.

 

Mike Brown MVO (Commissioner of Transport for London):  The Healthy Streets scheme is clearly part of the wider ambition to increase the number of people walking and cycling in London from the current 63% to 80% by the end of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy timeline.  There is lots of work going on together to ensure that our buses are able to move around in a clean and green way and that, equally, our junctions are safe and are pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly as well.

 

I have to say that the work that the Mayor’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner [Dr Will Norman] is doing in also working with us on the work that we are doing on the bus fleet more broadly and on bus routes more broadly is hugely important.  This does not feel like two different teams with two different objectives.  It feels like very much a holistic approach.  The Mayor may wish to comment a bit further, but I really do believe that we are on the exciting cusp of doing something really world-beating in terms of what we are doing with Healthy Streets and with buses and the cleanness of the air quality generally in London.

 

Leonie Cooper AM:  I absolutely agree and the figures of 90% to 99% reductions really speak for themselves.  I did ask the Mayor only recently in the budget debate about whether we had any support from the Government for its Clean Air Strategy.  Is there any movement at all on access to the Clean Air Fund?  What about supporting the diesel scrappage scheme for the microbusinesses that you want to introduce as a part of the rollout of the ULEZ?  Is there any help from the Government on this at all?

 

Sadiq Khan (Chair, Transport for London):  I spoke last week to the Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, [Rt Hon] Michael Gove [MP], and it was a promising conversation.  I have to say that whenever I speak to him or meet with him I feel encouraged.  I am seeing him next week at the Clean Air Summit that is being held with the metro mayors and core cities.  Michael Gove will be coming there and so I will be pursuing this with him.

 

As we speak, as of yet, there has been no constructive assistance to us.  The point I made to the Secretary of State was that I am one of his biggest advocates and I believe that he is committed to this agenda.  The point I said to him in a courteous way was that it is important for him to demonstrate by walking the walk that he means it.  I am hoping there is some news here, but at the moment no good news to report.

 

Leonie Cooper AM:  That is a shame, Mr Mayor, but I am going to leave it there and I would like to wish you and the other metro mayors luck at next week’s summit.  Thank you, Chairman.