York targets bus emissions through Clean Air Zone

City of York council has outlined plans to implement a ‘Clean Air Zone’ for buses — setting a minimum standard for the emissions of vehicles travelling in and out of the city centre by 2020.

Councillors will consider the proposal, alongside potential enforcement action to discourage engine idling in the city, at a meeting of the council’s executive next week (25 January).

York is introducing zero-emission buses across its Park & Ride network, and is proposing tougher standards for other buses operating in the city. Picture: Richard Walker/

Plans for the bus Clean Air Zone target an area York’s inner ring road and city centre and would work by limiting the frequency of entry to some of the most polluted parts of the city, based on the emissions performance of the bus.

Documents published by the council ahead of the meeting indicate that the CAZ will comprise a strict standard for buses entering the city centre on a high or medium frequency bus as well with less stringent requirements for low-frequency bus entries.

“The most frequent services would be required to meet an ultra-low emission standard whilst less frequent services (mainly rural services) would initially be set a lower minimum emission standard and given a longer period to upgrade to ultra low emission technology,” the council has stated.


Current proposals suggest that buses entering the targeted zone 10 times per day or more must meet a minimum of the Euro 6 emissions standard by 2020.

Those travelling into the area between five and nine times a day would be required to meet the Euro 4 standard in the same timeframe, before moving up to Euro 6 or better by January 2022.

Low frequency buses, travelling into the affected area fewer than five times per day, would have a an initial requirement to meet the Euro 3 standard as a minimum in 2020, moving up to Euro 6 by 2028.

Additional proposals are also on the table to merge the standard for the higher and medium frequency buses to achieve further improvements in air quality.

Next week’s meeting will determine a preferred option for the design of a Clean Air Zone, following which bus operators and contracting bodies will be consulted before the council moves ahead with the plans.


Commenting on the proposals Councillor Andrew Waller, interim deputy leader of City of York council with responsibility for the environment, said: “We have an opportunity to consider the UK’s first CAZ which is targeted at those buses having the greatest impact on air quality and health.

“The main reason for annual average NO2 levels remaining above health-based levels in the city centre is largely due to emissions from diesel vehicles which have not reduced as rapidly as predicted.”

Councillor Ian Gillies, executive member for transport, said: “Focussing on the highest frequency buses using or crossing the inner-ring road into the city centre, it will help improve air quality for all in the city and so improve health, improve savings to health budgets and spend on repairing air-borne damage to historic buildings.”

In August 2017 the council was awarded £3.3 million from the Department for Transport’s Low Emission Bus Scheme to support the delivery of high capacity, fully electric buses and charging infrastructure for the remainder of York’s Park & Ride routes.

York’s scheme will help deliver an electric Park & Ride network by February 2019. The new electric buses will join the 11 existing one already operating at Poppleton Bar and Monks Cross.

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