Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has announced £1.6m to deliver the first phase of Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit Programme (BEAR) in this financial year.
Following on from the commitment to introduce Low Emission Zones (LEZs) into Scotland’s four biggest cities by 2020, the BEAR Programme is an open competition delivered through the Energy Saving Trust, which will support bus operators with the financial costs associated with bus exhaust retrofit kit, working in tandem with accredited technology providers.
This technology helps reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from older buses to achieve the Euro VI emission standard, which is the equivalent of a new, modern bus, through the installation of accredited retrofit technology. We will also be monitoring air quality performance from the buses, with up to £25,000 per bus being provided by the Scottish Government.
Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, said:
“I am delighted to announce this extra support to assist financially with the costs of reducing air pollution emissions from buses. There is no doubt that the bus sector is playing a vital role in improving our air quality. Many bus operators have already taken advantage of the previous seven rounds of the Scottish Green Bus Fund, where over £16m of funding has resulted in over 360 new low emission vehicles being brought into the fleet.
“For many operators, the right decision is also to invest in retrofit technology for their existing fleet. This will breathe new life into older buses, reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions and help to progressively improve the quality of the air in our towns and cities.
“We all want our air quality to be the best in Europe, but for the oldest and youngest in our society and those with existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, air quality remains an issue. It is critical that we have LEZs introduced in our four biggest cities by 2020 and this fund will help support our ambition to improve our air quality."
Matthew Eastwood, Head of Scottish Transport at EST said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Scottish Government and bus operators by delivering the BEAR programme. Buses play a key role in keeping Scotland moving and are an important part of the solution to air quality in Scotland’s towns and cities.”
George Mair, Director for CPT Scotland said: “The bus industry has invested over £250m in the last five years on greening Scotland's bus fleet, improving the performance of what is already one of the most environmentally friendly modes of travel. The BEAR Programme fund, alongside the Green Bus Fund, are two schemes that facilitate further investment, but the real benefits of this investment are only realised when buses are given priority and freed from congestion. CPT will continue to work with the Scottish Government and Local Authorities to ensure that Low Emissions Zones recognise the importance of bus and encourage sustainable and active travel.”