Travel by public transport to make a difference on Clean Air Day


South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) encourages travelling in a sustainable way to tackle air pollution. 

SYPTE is urging commuters who normally travel by car to switch to public transport on Thursday 21 June – the longest day of the year – to celebrate Clean Air Day and contribute towards curbing air pollution.

“Shifting to public transport could have a big impact on the levels of air pollution in Sheffield – which are above the limit set by the World Health Organisation – as vehicle emissions are the biggest single source of all air pollution in the city”, said Tim Taylor, Director of Customer Services at SYPTE.

“Usually the worst levels of pollution are recorded in the morning and early evening, during peak commuting times. The high concentration of these polluting particles can cause strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections”.

Research by Dr. Ben Barrett, Senior Lecturer in Air Quality Sciences at King’s College London, shows that this picture could change dramatically if more and more people switch to commuting to work by public transport, or by using alternative modes. Cars, especially diesel ones, are the biggest polluters on the streets and people are more exposed to road pollution inside their cars stuck in traffic than if they travel by bus, tram, bike, or simply walk.

“The message is simple: using public transport improves air quality and the health of everyone in the region. The Buses for Sheffield partners are investing £1.9m to retrofit 117 buses across the city’s network with emission reduction technology to run in the busiest and most polluted corridors. We also have the Supertram network, one of the cleanest modes of transport with zero emissions at source”, said Tim.

A recent Travel to Work survey conducted by SYPTE with over 2,000 people in South Yorkshire showed that around 60% of the respondents use a private car for some of, or all, their journey to work, but most of them (82%) could do some, or all, of their journey by public transport.

“SYPTE is always working towards encouraging more and more people to switch to public transport, even if for only part of their commute and this is a great opportunity to take matters into our own hands and make a difference”, concluded Tim.

One in every six buses operating in South Yorkshire uses the cleanest “Euro VI” low emission engines. Once the older Euro VI and Euro V engine vehicles are converted by the end of 2019, this will rise to one-third of the combined fleet. According to the sustainable transport group Greener Journeys, if we all switched from car to bus just one journey a month, it would mean 1 billion fewer car journeys on our roads, saving 2 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

If more people travel by public transport it also means better traffic flow for everyone, as one fully loaded double decker bus can mean up to 75 cars off the roads. And free-flowing traffic means fewer harmful emissions from vehicles stuck in congestion.