Research boost for green bus campaign

Published: 11 January 2012

New research by Wandsworth Council has strengthened the case for more low emission buses to be introduced on routes through Putney High Street.

A detailed analysis of the vehicles using the road has now been completed which shows that more than two thirds of nitrogen dioxide exhaust emissions come from buses.

The street - which is used by thousands of pedestrians everyday - suffers from consistently high levels of air pollution caused by traffic.

More than 100 buses use the road every hour.

The council's findings have now been presented to Transport for London (TfL) which is currently deciding which of its buses will be retrofitted with pollution reducing equipment and which routes will be given top priority for its next batch of greener hybrid buses.

Some bus routes which run via Putney High Street have already been earmarked for the greener models. They will start coming into service in October this year.

Environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said the research findings will help convince TfL to give Putney the highest priority and to commit more green buses to local routes:

"This new research has pinpointed buses as the main source of nitrogen dioxide pollution on Putney High Street. If we are to improve air quality here then these vehicles must clean up their act.
"Tfl has already pledged green buses on three routes and this is a decent start. However, much more needs to be done if we're to make a significant improvement to air quality. We need more hybrids deployed here and every diesel model must be retrofitted with nitrogen reducing catalytic converters.

"Our residents' health is at stake and half measures will not solve the problem.

"The case for hybrid buses in Putney is now clearer than ever and we will continue to press our case in the weeks ahead."

The campaign for greener buses in Putney is backed by local residents, the Putney Society and GLA member for Wandsworth and Merton Richard Tracey.

Transport for London is set to introduce 90 new hybrid buses across London in 2012. These buses pump out less particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide pollution and are quieter than conventional diesel models.

A further 1,000 London buses are set to be fitted with nitrogen dioxide reducing catalytic converters.

Wandsworth Council has a vast programme of air quality initiatives - most of which are coordinated by a dedicated team in the environmental services department.

Much of their work is focussed on reducing vehicle emissions which are the primary cause of air pollution in London.

The team is also responsible for monitoring the levels of airborne contaminants across Wandsworth and use the data to lobby the transport authorities for greener infrastructure and more funding to progress local air improvement schemes.

Examples of the council initiatives include:

  • A rolling programme of environmental theatre production in local schools to teach children how their travel choices affect air quality.
  • Developing school travel plans which reduce the number of cars used on the school run. 98 local schools now have approved travel plans which include initiatives like 'walking buses' and car pools to cut down on vehicle use.
  • The council offers free vehicle emission checks in public places like supermarket car parks. The popular programme offers residents the chance to check if their car will pass its next MOT and raise awareness about harmful vehicle emissions.
  • Since 2007 the council has championed car clubs which dramatically reduce total vehicle use and take older, more pollution cars off the road. We are currently increasing the number of on-street car club vehicles in Wandsworth five fold and have one of the highest car club memberships in London.
  • Free bike safely lessons are provided for children and adults to give more residents the confidence and skills they need to start cycling.
  • 'Dr Bike' cycle surgeries are held around the borough to promote cycling and teach residents basic maintenance skills.
  • Electric vehicle charging points have been installed in key locations which enable residents to switch over to low emission electric vehicles.
  • A free airTEXT messaging service warns residents when high pollution levels are forecast.
  • The council promotes walking through public health campaign and smarter travel awareness schemes.
  • A series of investment schemes are making the borough's town centres more pedestrian friendly including projects in Clapham Junction, Southfields, Putney and Earlsfield.
  • The Council is continuing to lobby for overcrowding relief on local trains and tubes. Higher capacity on these services will help encourage more residents to stop using their cars to get to work - reducing vehicle emissions.
  • The council's Smarter Driving campaign is raising awareness about vehicle pollution and encourages drivers to take simple steps to reduce their emissions like inflating tires.
  • The council's promotes and reward good environmental practice through the Green Champion scheme. This award scheme targets residents and businesses which have contributed to improving air quality.
  • The council's Go Green Plus advisers visit businesses to do an environmental audit and return with an action plan which should enhance the business profile whilst reducing energy costs and emissions.

More information is available on the council's website at