There is nothing less than an emissions emergency in Scotland's largest cities. The air we breathe can literally be the difference between prolonged life and premature death. Poor air quality has an impact on the health of our people and our planet - disproportionately affecting the poor, the elderly and the young.
Xplore Dundee takes very seriously its role in recognising and reducing this problem. We are therefore fully on board with the low emissions agenda, and are actively embracing clean technology in our fleet (because we want to run buses that are green inside and out).
But we will never fix the air quality crisis if we don't tackle the congestion crisis first. That means bus operators, local authorities and other agencies working well together to take meaningful steps towards bold solutions. Although a car-free Dundee is unlikely, encouraging more people to take the bus is an essential step towards a better environment for all.
1) Findings published by Friends of the Earth show that poor air quality is related to more than 2,500 preventable premature deaths per year and costs the Scottish economy £1.1bn annually.
2) Friends of the Earth have also identified the Seagate and Lochee Road as the fourth and fifth most polluted streets in Scotland. This is caused by high-sided buildings creating a 'canyon effect' which impedes the circulation of fresh air and traps harmful emissions at the ground level.
3) Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is largely produced by diesel-powered vehicles. It affects human health by irritating the respiratory system; consistent exposure inflames airways, weakens the lungs and renders people more susceptible to allergens.
4) Diesel cars are the single biggest contributor of NO2 at the roadside - responsible for more than twice the amount produced by buses. Although numbers are declining thanks to recent revelations of the real-world effects of diesel, there remain 12.1m diesel cars licensed for use on Britain's roads.
5) Nominally, a single bus produces more NO2 than a single car. But, on a per-passenger basis, buses are actually five times more environmentally friendly than cars.
6) We currently have 14 hybrid buses in our fleet which produce 30% less NO2 than conventional diesel vehicles. Later this year, we look forward to unveiling a £4m investment in brand new smart-hybrid 'Emerald' buses which will cut emissions by 95%. 'Emerald' will be the jewel in Dundee's crown as a cleaner, greener city.
7) Buses make up a tiny fraction of overall traffic. In fact, in ten of the last 15 years, buses have never generated more than 2% of local traffic.
8) Since 1950, Britain's road network has seen an explosion in demand but only a slight extension in distance: traffic volumes are up 847% whereas road capacity has increased by just 30%.
9) UK urban traffic speeds are falling by 2% annually thanks to congestion. Dundonians spend a higher portion of their driving time (7.1%) stuck in queues than residents of Glasgow (4.9%). When everybody waits, nobody wins. This leads to worsening air quality because emissions are four times higher in standing traffic than in free-flowing conditions.
10) Buses are best to curb congestion. The average car carries just 1.2 passengers whereas a double-deck bus has space to seat 74. That is the potential equivalent of taking 60 cars - and their fumes - off our roads.
Xplore Dundee backs the bid to improve air quality because we want the best possible future for this city and its people - where traffic moves a little faster and the air is a lot healthier. So, remember: buses are not part of the problem - they are the solution to pollution.
Published 8th June 2018