Clean Air Zone: People on low incomes could get free bus tickets

By Estel Farell Roig

Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, has released some initial details on how people with low-incomes will be supported when the Clean Air Zone is introduced.

The Clean Air Zone, designed to curb traffic air pollution, will see older, more polluting vehicles - an estimated 75,000 a day - charged £9 a day to enter a small area in the city centre.

The council had been ordered by the Government to implement the CAZ by October this year, but that has now been put back to the summer of 2022.

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Last month, city mayor Marvin Rees said the delay to the introduction of Bristol’s CAZ will “absolutely” not affect how soon residents get to breathe clean air.

And the mayor has now revealed further details about how the council will support people to switch to cleaner ways of travelling - including free electric bike loans and free bus tickets for low-income earners.

In a statement, the council said: "Government approval for the Clean Air Zone is expected soon. Once formally approved it will trigger a £45m support package to help all residents and businesses play their part.

"This includes specific support for low-income earners to help them switch to a cleaner vehicle.

"Free electric bike loans, cycle training, free bus tickets, discounted car club membership and support to buy electric cars will also be available to encourage more people to travel using cleaner more sustainable transport.

"The zone is estimated to deliver compliance with legal limits for pollution by 2023, five years earlier than previous proposals."

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The Mayor said the financial support being offered means even the most vulnerable, and people on low incomes, will be able to play their part.

He said: “The Clean Air Zone and our ongoing and long-term transport improvements will help us create a healthier city.

"The Clean Air Zone is coming next summer but there are actions we can all take now that will make a difference. By walking, cycling and using public transport more, we can make our city a healthier place for everyone.

“In the autumn we will confirm full details of the extensive support we’re providing to residents and businesses to get ready for the Clean Air Zone.

"We will be making sure less wealthy individuals and the most vulnerable are financially supported and prepared for the introduction of the zone.

“We’ve seen the benefits of recent changes, such as the closure of Bristol Bridge to traffic which reduced pollution and improved bus journey times.

"The Clean Air Zone and our ongoing plans demonstrate our commitment to reduce harmful pollution by increasing sustainable transport use for more journeys in line with leading liveable cities around the world.”

Christina Gray, director of public health for Bristol, said the majority of external air pollution comes from traffic and affects everyone in Bristol, especially children, older people and those with heart, breathing and underlying health conditions.

She said: “We don’t have to wait for the Clean Air Zone to make small changes to improve the air we breathe.

"Walking and cycling and avoiding car use for short journeys is good for both physical and mental health as well as improving air quality.”

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