8:00am Saturday 17th March 2012
By Alexandra Rucki
Transport for London (TfL) has caved in to pressure and promised to introduce 131 cleaner buses in Putney High Street this year.
The announcement came during a meeting on Monday between TfL chiefs, Greater London Authority (GLA) bosses and Wandsworth Council.
Members from the Putney Society and Stop the Shaft campaign group were also at the meeting.
It came after the council and the Putney Society teamed up to put pressure on TfL, supported by this newspaper, and petitioned to make Putney High Street a priority destination for cleaner buses.
TfL said there would be 131 greener buses running on Putney High Street by October, a huge increase on the 10 hybrid buses it promised earlier this year.
Out of the 228 buses that travel down the high street, 85 are to be retrofitted with a catalytic converter, 46 are being taken out of service and will be replaced by 36 newer vehicles.
That will leave 49 buses still not meeting the current European Union emission regulations.
Experts say pollution from buses is the primary cause of the high levels of Nitrogen Oxide found in the air in Putney, linked to asthma in young children and heart attacks in adults.
A council spokesperson said: "It is a step in the right direction, but we want to keep the pressure on TfL.
"We will be plugging for more priority for Putney - it shows what our research project has done so far.
"We now have the Putney Society, Stop the Shaft and backing from our local paper which puts us in a good position."
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's environment director, said: "The Mayor has listened to people's concerns in Wandsworth and all parties are committed to working together to deliver cleaner air in the borough recognising there are unique challenges here, especially on Putney High Street.
"Transport for London has already been able to confirm it has agreed significant upgrades to the bus fleet used in the area, which will by the end of next year see a much cleaner bus fleet with many entering service by this summer.
"Transport for London also pledged to ensure more work is undertaken to reduce engine idling from buses. We expect these improvements to buses to have an significant effect on No2 levels in the area."
A working group is also being set up to help improve air quality, made up of Wandsworth representatives, GLA members and TfL chiefs Their initial plans include supporting business to improve efficiency, building green walls and planning a cleaner air for Wandsworth campaign to raise awareness for local residents.
A public meeting is taking place on March 21 at 7.30pm in the town hall to discuss the borough's air pollution problems.
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