‘Misleading’ London bus ad replaced after local politician’s complaint

Emma Best, leader of Waltham Forest Conservatives, said the ad wrongly suggested most buses are “zero-emission”

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

The since-updated advert (credit: Emma Best)

An advert celebrating London’s “low or zero-emission” buses was scrapped after a local politician complained it was “misleading” Londoners.

Emma Best, leader of Waltham Forest Conservatives and a member of the London Assembly, raised concerns about a wraparound advert stating London buses are “low or zero-emission at the tailpipe”, with the words “zero-emission” in a significantly larger font.

In a written question to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in December last year, she pointed out that only a small proportion of London buses are currently zero-emission vehicles.

She wrote: “Given that the bus fleet are all low emission but only about 10 per cent are zero-emission, is this is false advertisement, and should the font sizes be reversed?”

Conservative Emma Best (Credit: London Assembly)

As of April 2023, a response to Ms Best’s question had still not been issued but Transport for London (TfL) appear to have decided to replace the advert.

In an email to Ms Best seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a senior City Hall transport official said on April 6: “Regarding the bus wrap, all buses in the London fleet are either low or zero-emission, so the wording used on the bus wrap is correct.

“However, TfL made the decision to update the wording of the advertising for greener buses, which now features the line ‘all our buses are low or zero-emission’ in the same font size.

“The bus wrap that you refer to was due to run until late March, and if not already replaced will be replaced shortly once the advertising space has been sold to a commercial advertiser.”

Writing on Twitter this week, Ms Best said: “I’ve been questioning the below ad with the Mayor’s team and am pleased to hear this misleading bus wrap is being pulled but it is again another case of the Mayor wasting Londoners’ money.”

TfL was approached for comment, but had not provided a statement at the time of publication.

According to TfL’s website, “more than 800 zero-emission buses” operate in the city’s total fleet of “around 9,000” buses. TfL is aiming to ensure that all of its buses are zero-emission at some point between 2030 and 2034, depending on funding available.