We need to talk about clearing the air.
Air quality is an increasingly important subject of public debate, sparking passionate activism and new policies by Government at every level. More and more, society is waking up to the effects we have on the world around us.
It touches on all bases: it’s an environmental issue, an economic issue and, most importantly, it’s a public health issue. But we will never fix the emissions emergency if we don't tackle the congestion crisis first.
Xplore Dundee is doing its part - investing millions of pounds to upgrade our fleet and reduce our own carbon footprint - but a challenge of this scale requires that meaningful steps be taken by all concerned.
That is why we welcome Dundee City Council's intention to introduce a Low Emission Zone, and will work with them as partners to make sure this plan is as ambitious as possible. We would encourage our passengers to spend just a couple of minutes responding to the public consultation underway about what shape the LEZ will eventually take. After all, you are already making a sustainable travel choice, so there is room to persuade more to follow your example.
Whilst we acknowledge that buses have a role to play, the evidence is clear that regulating buses alone is not enough to meet legal limits - let alone beat them. Even bringing every type of vehicle up to code leaves room for risk based on the sheer volume of traffic. Therefore, to be truly successful, we don't just need cleaner cars on our roads - we need fewer cars on our roads.
That's where we come in. Buses are best to curb congestion AND cut emissions.
Moving 1,000 people takes, on average, 833 cars - whereas it would only need 14 buses! That's a much more efficient use of limited roadspace, and would cut down on everyone's travel time. Plus, emissions are four times higher in congested conditions than in free-flowing traffic. So, the more vehicles that pile onto our roads, the worse this problem will get.
The average car carries just 1.2 passengers, whereas a double-deck bus has space to seat 75. We already carry around 40,000 passengers per day - so just imagine how many private car trips (and dirty fumes) we are already saving!
We don't simply say that buses are the solution to pollution - we truly believe it. That is why we are immensely proud of the rapid improvements we have made in just the last 12 months. In November 2018, we didn't have any Euro VI buses - but by the end of 2019, when our next batch of Emeralds arrive, those ultra-clean buses will make up 46% of our fleet - with even more on the way next year too.
|Buying brand new|
|Last Christmas, we invested £4m in a fleet of 14 'Emerald' buses. These high-standard, low-emission vehicles are the new normal for Dundee's fleet of the future, packing in a load of the latest modcons including wifi, USB charging and high-backed leather seats. They have proven pretty popular since being deployed on service 22, and more will be running around before too long...|
|Upgrading older vehicles to modern standards|
|We are one of the few operators to have participated in both phases of the Scottish Government's BEAR retrofit programme so far. This involves fitting filters and catalytic units onto older buses to bring them up to the cleanest Euro VI standards - cutting their emissions by 95%. So far, we've done seven double-decks and this year will be doing ten single-decks.|
The proposed LEZ would cover the City Centre - generally defined as being contained within the Marketgait ring-road, with one or two variations being considered. This would be a good start for the Seagate (which is widely known to be the nation's fourth most polluted street) but it leaves out Lochee Road (which comes in closely behind the Seagate as the fifth most polluted).
So we are going the extra mile - literally - to make sure we have a clean fleet of buses on services 28/29, which run via the mile-long Lochee Road in both directions every 7 minutes. We're already halfway there with the deployment of 7 retrofit double-decks (along with some spare Emeralds on a Sunday), with the aim of finishing the job before the end of this year. And although we only make up 2% of the traffic flow on that corridor, our buses regularly carry 15% of the city's population, so you could say we're already pulling well above our weight!
We don't just see this change as a challenge - we see it as a tremendous opportunity to put public transport at the forefront of more sustainable travel choices. With some changes in the way we move around, we can create the best possible future for this city and its people - one where traffic moves a little faster and the air is a lot healthier.
Be a hero. Save the world. Travel a better way.
Published 10th October 2019