Bus passengers to stay connected

Picture: Wullie Marr
Picture: Wullie Marr

Passengers travelling on a major public transport route in the Capital will be able to stay connected thanks to a new fleet of eco-friendly buses fitted with USB charging points.

Bosses at Lothian Buses yesterday unveiled the 30 Volvo B5TL Euro 6 double-deckers on Service 26, which runs between the west of the city and East Lothian.

Commuters will be able to charge smartphones and tablets on their way to and from work.

And the hybrid electric vehicles also boast low emissions on a route that includes St John’s Road in Corstorphine, one of Scotland’s most polluted streets.

“St John’s Road has always been a main artery within the city that we had earmarked for improvement and investment,” said Richard Hall, managing director of Lothian.

“The introduction of 30 new low-emission buses to this route, combined with our ongoing fleet replacement strategy BUS2020, ensures that we as a business are doing our part to improve air quality across the city.

“Buses are the lifeblood of the city and economy, 
transporting thousands of customers every day.”

Named last year as the second most polluted street in the country, St John’s Road has been made an air quality management zone.

The Evening News reported in May how emission-busting tolls were also back on the political agenda for polluted roads.

All buses on the Service 26 route, which also covers air quality management zones in Princes Street and Musselburgh High Street, will be low emission by the end of 2018.

A report published last year showed 65mg of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre were detected in St John’s Road in 2015, making it the most polluted in Edinburgh.

The new vehicles are part of a £7 million investment. Lothian has said the fleet will reduce Co2 emissions by a quarter. Nitrous oxides will be slashed by up to 98 per cent and particulates by around 75 per cent.

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth welcomed the announcement for helping tackle what it has described as a “public health crisis”. Campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “We welcome Lothian’s launch of a cleaner 26 route along the St John’s Road corridor, which is Edinburgh’s most polluted street.

“Air pollution is still a public health crisis in Scotland, responsible for over 2,500 early deaths each year.”

Campaigners believe public transport plays a vital role in cutting air pollution while providing important transport links.

“Buses are a key part of the solution to air pollution and are essential for the majority of Edinburgh residents who do not travel by car,” said Ms Hanna.

“One full double-decker bus can hold the equivalent number of passengers as 75 cars can.

“Buses are a clear 
winner when it comes to 
tackling congestion and 
toxic air pollution, 
especially when they offer a clean and comfortable 
experience.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com