The Urban Transport Group (UTG) has urged the government to make five policy changes to help regional transport authorities to improve air quality.
In a letter to the Joint Air Quality Unit of the government, the coalition of city region transport authorities believe these practical ‘operational’ changes would help those officers tasked with developing and delivering air quality plans on the ground.
The letter calls for Highways England and Network Rail – both responsible for significant levels of air pollution in city regions – to set out clearer strategies for meeting responsibilities in tackling emissions.
Elsewhere, the regional transport authorities call for a long-term plan and “consistent funding” so that local authorities can implement greener bus fleets, rather than the current structure of unpredictable, ad hoc funding pots; many authorities are already looking to go green with their bus fleets, but the government could provide much greater health.
Elsewhere, the government should provide leadership and an overarching strategy for greener public service vehicles including van fleets and refuse trucks – with the associated financial support.
The letter also calls for Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 to be implemented, enabling local authorities to enforce moving traffic offences to reduce idling and stop-start conditions that contribute to congestion and consequently, the build-up of toxic air.
Jonathan Bray, Director of the UTG, which is made up of the seven largest transport authorities in the UK, said these changes will enable the government to provide “vital” assistance.
He said: “We believe that by making these relatively straightforward and common sense policy changes, government can provide vital assistance to those who are working at the sharp end of our efforts to reduce toxic emissions from urban transport as rapidly as possible.
“Our operational asks also complement the higher level strategic asks around funding and fiscal measures which are being pursued at the political level by city region leaders.”