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Toxic buses could be banned from Brighton centre under low emission zone plan
Polluting buses will be banned from a city centre with the introduction of a “low emission zone”.
Brighton and Hove City Council officers believe the restricted area would help to clampdown on harmful emissions in a city which has high air pollution levels, before hefty European fines are introduced.
It would mean only buses meeting strict guidelines can enter the zone covering the North Street and Western Road “bus corridor” between Old Steine and Palmeira Square.
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Council leaders claim the area, which will be introduced from January 1 2015, is the “next logical step” in tackling the issue.
Martin Harris, of Brighton and Hove Bus Company, said more than a third of its fleet will not meet the test in 12 months time.
But Mr Harris said he was confident it would not have “unintended consequences” for passengers, such as increased fares, reduced frequencies or disruption to the pattern of services.
Mr Harris said: “Almost every bus in our fleet needs to operate via the proposed low emission zone - because that is where the majority of customers want the services to go and that's why the stops in that corridor are the most heavily used by passengers in the city.
“Our continued investment and the proposed phasing of the arrangements mean we will be able to maintain the services to and from the city centre that our customers require.”
The proposed zone, which will be licensed and monitored by the council, will only be restrictive for buses.
HGVs and taxis are excluded as many already meet EU standards.
Work will continue to educate taxi drivers on reducing emissions.
With a government grant contributing towards the costs, Green councillor Pete West said it would be a “cost effective way of improving air quality citywide as the buses entering the zone would also be travelling to other parts of the city”.
Brighton and Hove Buses will be the largest of four bus firms affected.
Mr Harris said the company currently has about 300 vehicles.
Of these, 100 comply with another 20 new buses expected be bought in 2014. A further 50 are expected to be retrofitted with catalytic converters, paid for with a government grant of £700,000.
Mr Harris said the remaining 130 vehicles would either be used outside the zone or have temporary licences until they could be replaced.
The issue will be discussed by the council’s transport committee on Tuesday. If agreed the local authority will apply for formal approval from the Government’s Traffic Commissioner.
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