Leicester extends ambition for bus clean air zone

Published on 01 March 2018

LEICESTER’S five major bus companies have signed up to a new commitment with the city council to deliver a clean air zone for buses by the end of 2020.

Arriva, Centre Bus, First, Kinchbus, Stagecoach and Leicester City Council have agreed to a new commitment that will help ensure that the highest European clean air standard for diesel buses is achieved across the city within the next three years.

Establishing a clean air zone for buses is one of the key priorities in Leicester’s Air Quality Action Plan, which was launched in 2015. Since then, the bus companies have invested over £20milllion in improving their local fleets and the proportion of buses with the highest standard of diesel engine has increased from 10 per cent to 40 per cent of the city’s bus fleet (currently 368 vehicles).

Over the same period, the average emission standard of the city’s bus fleet has improved from below Euro IV to almost Euro V, above the target originally set out in the Air Quality Action Plan.

Under the new commitment, local bus companies will help accelerate that progress and aim to make all of the city’s buses meet or exceed Euro VI by the end of 2020. This is currently the highest standard for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in diesel engines.

The new partnership commitment also sets out a shared ambition to introduce zero emission buses into the city’s fleet by 2030.

Deputy City Mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment, sustainability and public health, said: “Tackling emissions from diesel vehicles is vital to achieving better air quality. Our local bus operators are leading by example and should be applauded for their efforts and investment in cleaner air vehicles.

“Bringing emissions from the city’s bus fleet down and achieving at least Euro IV standard was one the key aims of the Leicester air quality action plan. We’ve now exceeded that.

“We’ve made good progress but more needs to be done. I’m pleased that our local bus operators share our commitment to achieving the highest Euro VI standard by the end of 2020, and to working together to deliver zero emission buses beyond that.”

Kevin O’Leary, Engineering Director at Arriva, said: “Arriva are delighted to be working with Leicester City Council on this. We are committed to positioning bus travel as a viable alternative to car travel. In order to do this we need to ensure that our customers are given access to transport that meets their growing expectations in terms of technology and comfort, but that also delivers with regards to environmental standards.

“We believe that working in partnership with local authorities is the best way to make bus travel an even more attractive choice and linking people to work, education and employment opportunities throughout Leicester.”

Matt Evans, Centrebus Ltd Managing Director, said: “Centrebus is pleased to be working in partnership with the city council to help reduce harmful emissions from road transport. Whilst buses still generally offer the lowest form of emissions per occupant compared to other types of motor transport, we are happy to take things a stage further.

“We achieved a Euro IV level of emissions by the end of 2017. With the support from the city council we are now looking to achieve Euro VI levels across our Leicester fleet as part of this initiative.”

Managing Director for First Leicester, Nigel Eggleton said, “As one of the major bus operators in the city we understand the vital role we play in helping to find solutions to reduce air pollution and so we're proud to be part of the Leicester Clean Air Zone for buses.

“Road congestion continues to be one of the biggest issues facing bus services and so it’s important that alongside today’s announcement, we continue to work with local authorities and other bus operators to encourage less car usage across the city and entice more people to travel by bus.”


“Our fleet is nearly 50% equipped with Euro VI engines meaning they produce 95% fewer NO2 emissions than their predecessors. We’re already making a significant impact on improving air quality in the Leicester. Recently announced funding from the DfT will also allow us to bring a number of older vehicles in the fleet up to Euro VI standard”

Alex Kerr, general manager at Kinchbus, said: “Air pollution caused by congestion in our cities and towns is a problem for everyone. While no one organisation can tackle this challenge alone, Kinchbus is committed to playing a leading role.

“It’s a sign of our commitment that we’ve recently invested a considerable amount of money into brand new cleaner buses for our skylink route that will provide existing customers with a great journey experience that also tempts car drivers to make the cleaner switch.

“Kinchbus is a locally owned independent company, meaning that every decision we make is made by those with an interest in the well-being of the local community and the efficiency of the local transport system. We are doing what we can to improve the air we breathe in the communities we serve.”

Steve Burd, Stagecoach Midlands Managing Director said “We are introducing 25 new Gold standard Euro VI emission level, single decks on our Service 48. This £4.4million investment demonstrates Stagecoach Midlands’ commitment to the Leicester Bus Clean Air Zone.

“We will continue to work with the city council and other operators to seek to achieve the desired improvements to emissions by the end of 2020.”

As part of the joint commitment, a new levy will be introduced from January 2021 for any bus that does not meet the Euro VI standard. The operating company would be charged a daily fee for any bus not complying with the bus clean air zone standard. Any revenue raised from the levy would be invested in project to improve local air quality.

The Euro emissions standards for buses are a technical measure defined by engine energy output in g/kWh. The Euro IV standard for nitrogen dioxide is 3.5g/kWh. This falls to 2g/kWh for Euro V, and just 0.4g/kWh for the highest Euro VI standard.

Leicester City Council was recently successful in a bid for £2.2milllion from the Government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund. This will allow the council to work with local bus companies to retrofit clean air technology to over one hundred more buses running on city routes.

Healthier Air for Leicester: Leicester’s Air Quality Action Plan (2015-2026) can be downloaded at www.leicester.gov.uk