Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone has been described as a “milestone” by the Cabinet Secretary for Transport as he joined the Convenor of the City Council’s Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Committee for the scheme’s launch at the main bus hub.
Representatives from three of the city’s biggest operators were present as Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Matheson and Councillor Anna Richardson, Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, took part in the press event at Buchanan Bus Station.
The LEZ runs from 23.59 on December 31 2018, initially applying to local service buses with 20% expected to comply with the strict emission standards in the first year of operation. The figure will increase each year until it applies to 100% of all bus journeys – and all other vehicle types – by the end of 2022.
Three buses from Stagecoach, First Glasgow, and McGill’s, with the LEZ displayed on their destination displays, provided the backdrop for the photo call on Thursday December 20. Also present were Mr Matheson, Cllr Richardson, Alison McCluskie (from Stagecoach) Ralph Roberts (McGill’s) and Andrew Jarvis (First Glasgow).
Transport Scotland has so far provided more than £10 million to assist with the retrofit programme for older buses, and Mr Matheson added: “I’m delighted that Glasgow City Council has delivered this milestone moment as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to improving air quality.
He continued: “We committed to introducing Low Emission Zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities between 2018 and 2020. Glasgow City Council and Transport Scotland have been working tirelessly, in partnership with the bus industry to deliver Scotland’s first zone which responds to the particular air quality challenges faced in Glasgow city centre.
“This is incredibly important for the oldest and youngest in our society and those with existing cardiovascular or respiratory conditions – but is also relevant to all of us who wish to enjoy cleaner air and less polluting emissions.”
Cllr Anna Richardson said; “Delivering cleaner air is a priority for our city and I’m delighted that Glasgow is leading the way by introducing the first Low Emission Zone in Scotland.
“It’s heartening to know of the clear commitment of bus operators towards improving air quality and today has been a wonderful opportunity to see their investment in cleaner vehicles that meet the strict emission standards required by Glasgow’s LEZ.
Cllr Richardson said the council’s approach to the LEZ, in which it worked closely with the bus operators on the initiative, was “pragmatic and phased” to ensure it would not be detrimental to peoples’ lives, businesses the city’s life.
John Bynorth, Policy and Communications Officer at Environmental Protection Scotland, said: “Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone is a major achievement for a city which is leading the way in encouraging people to shift to less polluting forms of transport and to make them consider walking and cycling as a healthier way to get around town.
“Passengers are already seeing the benefits of the latest fleet of low emission buses, which can only encourage more people to use the network to come into the city for work, shopping and social activities. “
Information signs letting people know that Glasgow is an LEZ city have been erected on the main approach routes to the city. They can be found in Gorbals Street, close to the Victoria Bridge; Crown Street, near the Albert Bridge, London Road, Stirling Road, close to the motorway off ramp, Cambridge Street, Bothwell Street close to the M8 and Broomielaw. They are not enforcement signs, but the city council hopes they will raise awareness of the LEZ among motorists.
Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee are also planning to introduce LEZ’s over the coming years.