Once upgraded, the buses will produce less NOx emissions per kilometre than many types of modern car. The retrofit will reduce NOx emissions of buses to Euro VI standard, complying with standards set out in the council’s own ambitious Clean Air Strategy.
Upgrade work will be prioritised on the bus routes that travel through the worst pollution corridors – particularly First’s routes 51, 52a, 75/76, 81/82, 95 and 97/98, plus the Stagecoach routes 7 and 25. These buses travel around 7.8 million kilometres each year (4.8m miles.
It is hoped this prioritisation will significantly improve air quality across the city.
Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure at Sheffield City Council, said: “Polluted air is a public health emergency across our country and we need to take decisive and urgent action to clean up our air.”
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“The action we are announcing today is a big step forward in achieving our bold vision of safer, cleaner air for everyone in Sheffield. I’m delighted we are making these improvements, which will mean Sheffield’s bus fleet has amongst the cleanest and greenest bus fleet anywhere in the country.
“We know that air quality isn’t just about health, it’s about fairness and inequality too. As such, I’m especially pleased to confirm that we are focusing these bus upgrades on the routes where pollution is highest and vulnerable people are most affected. This will close the gap between the communities with the dirtiest and cleanest air, which I hope everyone will welcome.
“Of course this isn’t all we are doing. We are already trialling the biggest fleet of low-consumption hydrogen vehicles outside of London. We are introducing anti-idling education and enforcement outside schools.
“I am absolutely committed to a greener and cleaner future for everyone in Sheffield and the investment we are announcing today is an important step on this exciting journey.”
The council is working with all stakeholders to ensure that the impacts of their activities contribute to improving local air quality.
Kevin Belfield, Managing Director at First South Yorkshire, said: “We are committed to investing in vehicles with ultra-low-emissions that assist with improving air quality and we’re therefore delighted with today’s news. Road congestion continues to be one of the biggest issues facing bus services and so it’s important that alongside today’s announcement that we continue to work with the local authorities and other bus operators to encourage less car usage across the city and entice more people to travel by bus.”
Matt Davies, Managing Director of Stagecoach, said: “Bus travel is part of the solution to improving air quality in Sheffield. These retrofit engines are ninety five percent cleaner than previous models and emit fewer emissions than an average diesel car, but have 15 to 20 times the capacity and could take 75 cars off the road.”
The investment has come following a successful funding bid by Sheffield City Council from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).