London ‘on track’ to have fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2034

New electric buses rolled out this week amid City Hall drive to cut emissions from public transport, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

A new zero-emissions bus (credit TfL)
A new zero-emissions bus (credit TfL)

More than 80 zero-emission buses have been added to London’s public transport network, as the capital continues its journey to net zero carbon emissions.

The new buses will operate on routes in and around Sutton, and will mean that more than half of bus journeys made in the South London borough will be on zero-emission vehicles.

Across London, the eco-friendly buses now number more than 1,100 – putting Transport for London (TfL) on track to having a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2034, a target which they say could be achieved by 2030 with further government investment.

The new buses were unveiled at the Sutton campus of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), with transport officials and health experts pointing out that reduced emissions should help lower the capital’s cancer rates.

Seb Dance, deputy mayor for transport, said the buses are “really popular” with passengers and that they formed part of the largest electric bus fleet in Europe.

Speaking less than a week before the London-wide expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez), he added that City Hall was introducing “a series of new routes, and extensions to routes, and increased frequencies” to buses across outer London.

This includes the roll-out of the Superloop network of express services, announced by mayor Sadiq Khan earlier this year and comprising a vast ring around London’s suburbs. In Sutton, the X126 bus has been re-branded as Superloop route SL7, and its frequency has been doubled.

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“We want to provide a real and clear alternative to private car use in outer London,” said Dance. “We know that cancer of course is one of the conditions, alongside heart disease and asthma, that is caused by poor air quality.

“We have to do everything we can to contribute to the solution and the fight against cancer – cleaning up our air is a really important part of that battle.”

Richard Woods, the ICR’s head of sustainability, said the link between air pollution and cancer was well established.

“Fine particulates can build up in the lung, which can damage lung cell DNA, which can lead to cancer,” he explained.

“We’re really pleased to see this further development in sustainable public transport – it’s something that the London borough of Sutton and the ICR have been asking for, to urgently support the growing London Cancer Hub here in Sutton.”

TfL has introduced the new buses in the borough on routes 93, 154, 164, 213 and 80, joining the zero-emission buses already operating on Route 413.

Tom Cunnington, TfL’s head of buses business development, said: “We’re not just replacing the buses, we’re also improving the interior.

“We’re giving a better seat, we’re providing USB sockets, improving the general ambience – there’s even a sun-roof on the top of the bus as well, to make sure that the experience of travelling on a bus is better.

“Because it’s not just about how we improve the emissions from our own fleet. It’s how we can make our public transport offer across London, but particularly in outer London, more attractive – alongside walking and cycling – to encourage more people out of their cars, when they’ve got the choice.”

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