West Yorkshire Combined Authority is using a range of transport measures to combat poor air quality as well as support local economic growth and job creation.
Clean bus technology, cycling and walking schemes, ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), 20mph zones and the planned NGT trolleybus network in Leeds are among the initiatives being employed. And a West Yorkshire Low Emission Strategy is being developed to deliver health benefits, today's Combined Authority Transport Committee meeting heard today.
West Yorkshire's urban areas have some of the highest levels of air pollution in the UK outside of London with projections suggesting that EU emissions limits will not be fully achieved by 2020.
Measures to reduce the impact of transport on air quality have included the 'greening' of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's entire My Bus fleet. All 165 of the yellow school buses have been fitted with clean bus technology, after a successful, £1m bid for Department for Transport (DfT) Clean Bus Technology' funding.
As a result, the My Bus fleet is the largest, greenest fleet of school buses in the UK.
A £422K bid has been submitted to install clean engine technology on 26 of the Combined Authority's older 'Access Buses', which provide door-to-door local transport aimed at people who are unable to use conventional bus services.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority has submitted two bids for almost £14.5m to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) £500m fund for Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Funding (ULEV).
'Supporting businesses and residents'
The £14m Go Ultra Low Scheme to support West Yorkshire businesses and residents to replace older, polluting vehicles with ULEVs. Hitting a target of 20,000 ULEV purchases over the next five years will achieve £57.1m in air quality benefits that include savings of 72 tonnes of NO2, two tonnes of Particulate Matter and 27,000 tonnes of CO2 per year by 2020.
If successful a £350k Low Emission Bus bid to OLEV from the Combined Authority will result in eight hybrid-electric buses operating between the existing Elland Road and planned Temple Green Park and Ride sites and Leeds City Centre. This bid is supported by the current Elland Road Park and Ride operator First Group, which will match fund the bid.
The Combined Authority is also leading a bid process to the £20m Ultra Low Emission Taxi Scheme, which would provide resources to help encourage West Yorkshire's taxi and private hire firms to purchase new DDA compliant Electric taxis that would reduce emissions from the county's 11,000 taxi fleet.
In partnership with the five West Yorkshire Districts, the Combined Authority is delivering a programme of schemes to encourage active travel in the form of cycling and walking through a combination of grant funding and Local Transport Plan funds.
'Promoting sustainable travel'
These have included helping the West Yorkshire Travel Plan Network to promoting sustainable travel to its 208 members' 230,000 employees. The programme has also provided 150 reconditioned bikes and 544 Monthly MCards enable young people to travel to apprenticeships. Over 1,000 day tickets have also been issued by job centres so jobseekers can travel to interviews and over 2,000 monthly MCards to enable jobseekers to travel to work for the first month.
CityConnect is a series of infrastructure improvements across West Yorkshire including a 23km 'cycle superhighway' connecting east Leeds and Bradford City Centre, 16km of improvements to the Leeds Liverpool Canal Towpath and 20mph zones in surrounding streets. It has been made possible through a successful £18m, Combined Authority bid to the DfT. An additional £22m was awarded by the DfT for a range of cycling infrastructure schemes across West Yorkshire and York with local match funding bringing the total budget to over £60m to be delivered by March 2018.
In addition, £250k of Department of Health (DfH) funding and local authority contributions is delivering a project to engage certain communities in walking activities.
And the planned New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus system in Leeds, which has been designed to support the city's sustainable development and offer an attractive alternative to car travel on a heavily congested route, is a zero-emission project. Trolleybuses, which can carry up to 160 standing and seated passengers, are powered by overhead cables.
Cllr Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair, said:
"As well as underpinning local economic growth and the creation of new jobs, transport has a huge role to play in improving people's health both by making it easier, safer and more inviting for them to walk and cycle and by introducing measures and incentives that result in reduced emissions and improved air quality.
"Given the discussion currently taking place in Paris, this is particularly relevant and I am pleased to see that the Combined Authority and its partners in the West Yorkshire districts and York are taking a lead in implementing these schemes and that there are more bids in the pipeline."