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Low Emission Zones

Building Scotland’s Low Emission Zones

In autumn – winter 2017, Transport Scotland (the Scottish Government’s national transport agency), ran four consultations relating to our campaign and offering opportunities for improving the dire state of Glasgow’s public transport. Get Glasgow Moving responded to them all, each time stating the importance of solving these issues in parallel and not in isolation.

We also ran an e-action in collaboration with Friends of the Earth Scotland, Unite Community, Unison Scotland and We Own It, encouraging as many people as possible to also send responses to Transport Scotland demanding bold reforms to our transport governance and ‘buses run for people not profit!’. 1,882 responses were submitted before the deadline on 5 December 2017.

Read our Consultation Responses

Low Emission Zones

Subject: Consultation Response

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please accept this as our formal response to your consultation on ‘Building Scotland’s Low Emission Zones’ (deadline 28 November 2017).

I’m writing on behalf of the thousands of people in Glasgow who support our volunteer-run Get Glasgow Moving campaign for a world-class, fully-integrated & accessible, publicly-owned, public transport network for everyone in our city (3,592 supporters via our 38 Degrees petition, 795 via Facebook and 279 via Twitter).

We support the setting up of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Glasgow (and in all Scotland’s other cities with illegal levels of air pollution: Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Edinburgh). We believe Glasgow’s LEZ should be targeted at vans, lorries, taxis and private cars in order to reduce air pollution and congestion in our city and therefore improve the reliability of our buses and safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

It is impossible to look at the potential of a new LEZ for Glasgow in isolation. The issue of how we achieve clean air in our city is fundamentally linked to how we improve, expand and fully-integrate our public transport network to make it affordable and accessible for everyone to use. We explore these issues in our more detailed response to your consultation on ‘Local Bus Services in Scotland’ (deadline 5 December 2017).

Although evidence shows that Glasgow’s illegal air pollution hotspots (such as Hope Street) are primarily caused by diesel powered buses, we do not support a LEZ which solely targets buses. We believe this approach scapegoats buses for air pollution (when it is the dominance of private cars in our city which we really must tackle) and runs the risk of the cost of new low emission bus fleets being passed on in fare hikes to passengers who are already struggling to afford tickets.

Privatised buses are failing the people of Glasgow: in overpriced/inconsistent fares, poor/no route planning and frequently axed services which are not deemed ‘commercially viable’. As we highlight in our manifesto, this failure is also clearly evidenced in the average age of the buses in Glasgow (10 years old) compared to 4 years old in Edinburgh, where publicly-owned Lothian Buses have greater incentive to re-invest in low emission bus fleets. However, as highlighted in our response to the ‘Local bus services in Scotland’ consultation, we believe it is possible to deal with the issue of reducing toxic air pollution from privately-owned buses by granting extensive new powers to Local Transport Authorities and enhancing franchise agreements with operators. We see no reason why a contract to operate a specific bus service cannot stipulate the emission standard of the buses that must be used (this should by a minimum of Euro 6).

Many world cities (London, Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland & Cape Town) have committed to only procure zero-emission buses by 2025. The Scottish Government must do the same for Glasgow and invest in a fleet of electric buses for our city and the infrastructure required to run them. We believe it is essential that the public investment in low emission buses remains in public ownership / control and does not end up subsidising the profits of private bus companies. This could be achieved if new electric buses became the assets of Glasgow’s new publicly-owned bus company or if a new publicly-owned Leasing Company rented them back to private companies who want to continue to operate under the terms of new franchising agreements (described in detail in our response to ‘Local bus services in Scotland’).

In order to ensure that Glasgow’s LEZ truly succeeds in decreasing the number of polluting vehicles on our streets and increasing public transport use, its implementation and running must be controlled by a newly enhanced Local Transport Authority for Glasgow (SPT or the new ‘Transport for Glasgow’). Much like Transport for London (which controls the city’s LEZ and Congestion Charge), Glasgow’s new Local Transport Authority must have power over the city’s entire transport network. Like TfL, it must be set-up to ‘reinvest all income to run and improve services’ so that we can use revenue generated from the LEZ (and a future Congestion Charge using the same number plate recognition technology we install) to expand the local public transport network, improve reliability and reduce fares.

Just as London’s LEZ includes sections of the M1 and the M4, Glasgow’s LEZ must also include the motorways which cut right through its centre (the M8 and the M74). It is vital to acknowledge that in a city where less than half of all households have cars, much of the toxic air pollution breathed in by our citizens comes from vehicles from outside the city or those simply passing through. The Low Emission Zone provides the perfect framework for Glasgow to start to receive compensation for this injustice, which can then be used to benefit its citizens in the form of improved local public transport and cleaner air for us all to breathe.

Our campaign would like to be involved in the next stages of planning for Glasgow’s LEZ in conjunction with enhanced powers to Local Transport Authorities, which should be delivered through the forthcoming Transport Bill. Passenger / citizen involvement in decision making is essential to its delivery and success.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Ellie Harrison