Police called to protest over ‘filthy’ bus in Sheffield as man blocks vehicle’s path

Police were called to a protest over a 'filthy' bus in Sheffield today after a man stood in front of the vehicle and refused to let it move.

By Robert Cumber
Tuesday, 26 February, 2019, 19:32

The stand-off on Union Road in Nether Edge lasted for more than four hours this afternoon before the bus eventually returned to the depot.

Chris Rust,who is a member of the campaign group Clean Air Sheffield, said he had staged the impromptu demonstration after becoming concerned about the number 3 bus, which he said was belching out illegally high levels of pollutants into the air.

Chris Rust standing in front of the number 3 bus, which he claimed was pumping dangerously high levels of pollutants into the Sheffield air

But First, which operates the route, defended the green credentials of its fleet, saying its buses were tested every 28 days to ensure their emissions met standards and it was investing in new ‘ultra-low-emission’ vehicles.

Mr Rust said he was walking through the suburb where he lives when he noticed what he described as an ‘astonishing level of foul-smelling, filthy thick black smoke’ coming from the vehicle.

He told how he had approached the driver when the bus reached its terminus, saying he felt the vehicle should not be on the road, and when his complaint was ignored he stood in front of the bus to prevent it moving.

“The driver called his bosses who called the police, but when police arrived they asked to company to make sure it carries out proper checks on the bus, before leaving. They obviously didn’t see it as a criminal matter requiring their attention,” said Mr Rust.

“I believe what I did prevented an illegal act because the condition of that bus meant it was emitting an illegal level of air pollution.

“They have some lovely new buses, I’m sure, but this one was a bit of a clunker, and I decided that the best way to get the bus company to take this seriously was through direct intervention.”

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Mr Rust said there were no passengers on board when he began the protest at around midday, and it was not until after 4pm that the bus eventually returned to the depot.

Garry Birmingham, First South Yorkshire's managing director, said: “We’d like to provide reassurance on the safety of our vehicles and that we are committed to investing in vehicles with ultra-low-emissions that assist with improving air quality. As part of our 28-day inspection cycle, we do a recorded engine emissions test to DVSA standard on every vehicle.

“We believe Euro VI diesel engines are the eco-friendliest buses available for mass deployment right now, offering 95 per cent to 99 per cent reductions in the most harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and particulates against the older buses they replace.

“Over the last few years, millions have been invested in new ultra-low emission hybrid vehicles for Sheffield, including £8m in the last year.

“At the same time, we are getting ready for a low-carbon and zero-emission future. We have begun to introduce biogas, electric and hydrogen buses in other regions so we are ready to switch to alternative fuels/power sources when this starts to become affordable and operationally viable for most of our services.

“We have also begun an extended program of upgrading older vehicles to help reduce emissions in the city to bring them up to the cleanest standards.”

The Star contacted South Yorkshire Police, which did not respond.