Judgement day for parking discounts in York

Councillors are to take a fresh look today at proposals to abolish the current discounts for Respark permits.

15 years ago, the then LibDem led Council, introduced discounts for the owners of short, low pollution cars. The intention was to make maximise the use of kerbside space, while providing a modest incentive for drivers to buy low emission models.

Under Tory proposals, discounts would only apply to Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs).  Essentially these are electric and plug in hybrids.

The proposers omitted to tell people that no “on street” charging facilities are available in York.

Hence, in effect, the discounts are being abolished.

Perhaps surprisingly the move to retain the traditional discounts comes from Green Councillors. They have something of a vested interest as they represent areas with many ResPark zones.

Small cars will lose their discount

They risk being characterised as opposing low emission transport; perhaps a parallel with the Tory government decision to abolish emission based Vehicle Excise Duty bandings in favour of rates based on a vehicles purchase price.

Both positions are counter intuitive to the party’s traditional positions.

Hopefully LibDem and Labour Councillors will get behind the rethink and support a more logical approach to ResPark charges.

The change could lead to a “hole” in the Councils income budget for next year. This could mean a 5% general increase in permit prices.

York Council seeks views on new “Clean Air Zone” for York’s city centre

Fuel cell bus under test in London. Zero tail pipe emissions. Still no sign of the technology reaching York

City of York Council is seeking views on the proposed introduction of a Clean Air Zone in York’s city centre, to help tackle traffic pollution which can be harmful to people’s health.

As part of this consultation, a drop-in event is taking place on Monday 23 July between 3- 6pm at West Offices, where officers will be on-hand to answer any questions and provide more information about the proposals.

Unlike other parts of the country where a Clean Air Zone is a mandatory requirement, the council is proactively looking to introduce the new zone.

This will help to reduce the amount of traffic pollutants in York’s city centre, which are mainly caused by diesel vehicles.

The council is looking at many ways to improve air quality in the city centre. One of these options is by working with bus operators to apply the proposed Clean Air Zone to local bus services.

The authority knows (through York’s Third Air Quality Action Plan) that local bus services make up three per cent of the traffic but cause 27 per cent of the main pollutants in York.

The survey is available to complete at www.york.gov.uk/consultationsAlternatively  ask for a paper copy at West Offices.

To find out more about which bus services could be affected, or for more background on this proposal, visit: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=733&MId=10195

Those reading the background  reports may be disappointed by the lack of information on pollution trends in the City (Euro 6 standards are already prompting improvements) while auto idling devices are fitted to all new vehicles.
(more…)

York bus services back in the firing line?

New Rougier Street bus shelter

The York Council, as part of a “Clean Air Day”, is claiming that users of 75 cars could be accommodated on one double decker. Maybe so, but if they choose to wait at the new bus shelter on Rougier Street they will find that the real time information about bus services has disappeared.

Failure to roll out the electronic information screens to more stops has been a failing of the Council.

There are none at bus stops on Tadcaster Road which accommodate the, otherwise successful, inter city services.

Busy stops in the Acomb area have never had them.

They may be needed more and more as, following a good year in 2017 with high passenger numbers and record-breaking approval ratings in surveys, the service quality seems to be falling away again. This is mainly down to reliability with some buses being dropped without warning.

Back to the “Clean Air Day” and the Councils frankly disingenuous “on line” survey. The survey purports to ask residents whether they favour the use of lower emission buses on, and within, the inner ring road.

No prizes for the likely answer to that question. Might as well ask if residents would prefer have hemlock added to the  water supply!

Generally, air quality in York has improved in recent years with cleaner vehicles making their way onto the streets. York already has some electric buses operating on Park and Ride routes. This will reach 100% shortly following a government grant decision.

The latest Euro 6 specifications substantially reduce emission levels on new diesel buses. However, Euro 6 buses cost £250,000 each meaning that upgrading just the First fleet in York would require investment of £17.5 million.

Having raised the possibility of access for only the least polluting buses by 2020, the Council singularly fails to tell residents how much a forced modernisation programme would cost and who would pay?

One of the questions implies that the change could mean a substantial increase in fares.

Another option for bus companies seeking to pay for the minimum £15,000 per bus cost of modifications to just exhaust systems, would be for them to withdraw services from less well used routes.

The Council can’t fund additional social bus services, so the consequence would be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of more cars on City streets.

Quite the reverse of what the Council hopes to achieve.

The Council needs a well thought through and costed modernisation programme for public transport in the City.  Sloganising simply clouds the decision making process.

Air quality in York shows further improvement

A six-year trend in air pollution reduction means that two of York’s three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) could be withdrawn in the next two years.

Falling concentrations of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is mainly from traffic, means that it is no longer having a health impact on people in those areas.

City of York Council’s annual air quality status report is being presented to the executive member for environment on 7 August for a decision-making session.

The report shows that the Salisbury Terrace AQMA has had nitrogen dioxide concentrations consistently below the level where it affects health for the last four years, so the AQMA for this area is recommended to be revoked.

The Fulford Road AQMA has been showing that, while average levels of pollutants are continuing to fall across the whole area, one location continues to show higher than permitted levels. Should another year of monitoring levels indicate a continued decline, that AQMA may be recommended to be reduced or revoked in 12 months time.

In the meantime, increased concentrations of NOmonitored on Coppergate could mean that, depending on monitoring data submitted early in 2018, the boundary of the city centre AQMA boundary may need to be amended. However changes in traffic restrictions and buses on this route may be responsible for the change in concentrations.

York’s Low Emission Strategy continues to deliver the air quality improvement measures in York’s third Air Quality Action Plan including:

  • 14% of York’s taxis have converted from diesel to ultra low emission electric hybrids since York’s unique taxi incentives and

    Electric buses have been introduced in York

  • new taxi licensing policy specifying minimum emission standards for new or replacement taxis
  • encouraging residents to walk, cycle and use public transport to beat congestion and pollution through the Local Transport Plan and i-Travel York
  • introducing electric buses on two Park&Ride routes with a third to be delivered via the new Park & Ride contract
  • retrofitting the world’s first electric double-decker sightseeing bus with plans to convert a further five diesel buses to full electric drive
  • City of York Council has been awarded £816,000 from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) after becoming the only Yorkshire location out of eight in the country to achieve ‘Go Ultra Low’ city status. The money will be used to fund a city-wide network of charging hubs
  • implementing a ‘pay as you go’ fast charge public electric vehicle recharging network in addition to 11 publicly accessible rapid chargers across the city. 1,500 charges – including those made by electric buses – are made each month and are rising on a monthly basis.
  • Low Emission Planning guidance requires electric vehicle recharge infrastructure, Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMPs), and emissions mitigation plans on new building developments.

Idle-Free Zone, Turn Engine Off Sign

We are also currently considering the following air quality improvement measures:

  • reducing emissions from buses by developing a bespoke Clean Air Zone (CAZ).
  • introducing anti-idling measures via signage and a new anti-idling enforcement policy.

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the environment, said: “While our sustained work on combating air pollution has made a significant contribution to improving air quality in York, it’s important to recognise that much still needs to be done.

“Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts – especially in children and older people – including contributing to the onset of heart disease and cancer and we will continue to work with partners to further improve the air we all breathe in the city.”

The full report can be read at http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=870&MId=10031&Ver=4

Hyper electric vehicle charging points could be installed next year

York Council report details air quality improvements for sixth consecutive year

The latest statistics on air quality from City of York Council, gathered by the UK’s most extensive provincial monitoring network, shows improvement across the city, although there are areas still above national targets.car-emissions

Areas with poor air quality include:

  • Gillygate,
  • Holgate,
  • Lawrence Street and
  • George Hudson Street/Rougier Street

The 2015/16 report will be presented to the Executive Member for the Environment at his Decision Session on 5 September.

York has one of the most extensive air quality monitoring networks in the UK outside London monitoring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other pollutants since 1999, and with NO2-specific monitoring at 340 locations*.Throughout 2015, NO2 concentrations have decreased at most of the monitoring stations in line with a steady downward trend.

In the Air Quality Management  Areas (AQMAs) in the city centre, along Salisbury Terrace and in Fulford, NO2 and particulate matter levels are now fractionally lower than nationally-permitted levels which could remove certain areas of concern.

These lower levels have been achieved through a stream of initiatives driven by the council’s low emission strategies. The most recent Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3), adopted in December 2015, sets out how York intends to continue to deliver its ambitious and pioneering strategy and to work towards becoming an internationally recognised ultra-low emission city.

The measures undertaken in 2015 to improve air quality include:
(more…)