Cleaning up Lavender Hill’s buses

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A bus stop poster outside BAC advertising the new buses

TfL have launched the latest of a series of Low Emission Bus Zones, and the newest one will run along the full length of Lavender Hill (as well as most of Wandsworth Road, and part of St John’s Hill – see map below).

Only ‘greener buses’ – which essentially means those that meet the strict Euro VI emissions standard on emissions including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and particulate materials – will serve on routes operating throughout this zone.

With half a dozen buses running along Lavender Hill this affects quite a few buses; we understand this has essentially meant requiring newer, cleaner buses (generally hybrids, with modern engine technology) when contracts are up for renewal.

Several routes on Lavender Hill already had relatively new buses (87, 452, etc) but the 77 really stood out for having a fleet of particularly old, loud and smelly buses, which were also quite prone to breaking down en route – which have now finally been replaced.

Looking at the map, it seems the chosen zones aren’t necessarily the absolute worst pollution hotspots, but rather they seem to be focussed on areas that have both a lot of buses, and a lot of residents / pedestrians – i.e. the interaction is the problem.   TfL presumably aren’t so worried about high pollution levels on major arterial roads if there aren’t many houses / shops / pedestrians to be affected by the pollution, which seems a fair approach in a world where funding is limited.

All in all, this is unambiguously good news.  Lavender Hill has always had heavy bus traffic and has long suffered from air pollution.  The difference in the level of blackish soot that gathers on window ledges and surfaces on buildings facing the main street, compared with nearby side roads, is really noticeable – and this is always a good indicator of how mucky the air is.  Anything that can help is to be applauded.

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