‘London’s old buses sent to Cambridge’
Old London buses rejected for being too polluting are ending up on Cambridge’s streets according to members of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly.
A number of councillors present at the group’s meeting on Thursday (June 6) raised concerns as measures to address pollution and congestion were discussed.
Cambridge City councillor, Mike Davey, Labour, said: “I’m not sure I quite understand why we should be dependent on what London doesn’t want.
“I think [our GCP’s strategy] should be about us creating the highest standard possible for those people who live in Cambridge. Although I do accept there are financial constraints within that.”
The GCP’s transport director, Peter Blake, said Cambridge is not the only area affected.
He said: “Everywhere is losing out to London at the moment on the quality of vehicles. This is not just a Cambridge thing. If you go round the country all of the areas that are looking at clean air zones they are increasingly concerned that the type of vehicles on the public transport side are getting pulled out of London because London is spending hundreds of millions of pounds upgrading their fleet.”
County councillor John Williams, also a Liberal Democrat, said he feared bus operator Stagecoach is “taking advantage” of lighter restrictions on air quality in Cambridge compared with other areas of the country, by sending its old buses to the city.
He said: “The transport [the GCP] want to move people onto is actually very bad for air pollution so we need to, in addition to tackling congestion, to do something about the vehicles themselves.
“And it’s clear that in Cambridge we are at a disadvantage in that we don’t have a clean air zone, and Stagecoach, the main bus operator, is taking advantage of that, and we are seeing buses being cascaded down from elsewhere in the country to Cambridge because we don’t have the Euro 6 restriction on the use of vehicles.”
He questioned whether the company should get as much money from the county council as it does if it cannot reduce its pollution.
A spokesperson for Stagecoach defended the company’s record in a requested statement after the meeting.
They said: “Stagecoach East is committed to providing greener, cleaner public transport for local people. Two years ago we made a significant contribution towards improving air quality in Cambridge city centre by investing £4.7million in a fleet of 22 Park and Ride buses fitted with the very latest stop-start technology. This technology eliminates nitrous oxide emissions when buses are stationary at bus stops.
“We are currently investing a further £4m in new vehicles, which will again benefit from the most up-to-date technology available.
“The council is fully aware that we are phasing out a small number of Euro 3 buses, which run on rural routes with minimal access to the city centre. In September all of these buses will be replaced with our new vehicles.”
The Joint Assembly was discussing ongoing plans to increase Park and Ride provision until a more permanent solution – the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro – can take over.
City councillor Tim Bick, Liberal Democrat, and the group’s vice chair, told the meeting Cambridge faces a dilemma between cutting congestion and cutting pollution.
He said plans for more buses to reduce the first problem could exacerbate the second, if the wrong vehicles are used.
More by this authorBen Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter