In 2001, Bristol declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for NO2 and PM10. This AQMA covers the city centre and key transport routes. Approximately 100,000 people live within the AQMA, and it also includes the central employment, leisure and shopping districts, major hospitals and dozens of schools.

Following the declaration of an AQMA, an Air Quality Action Plan was published in 2004 to provide a strategy to bring about compliance. Transport planning in Bristol has led to a sharp increase in cycling and use of public transport, but persistent air quality problems remain.

Examples of Council projects that are collectively making a difference include:

  • MetroBus, a rapid public transport system that will provide an express service to key destinations in the area using a combination of segregated busways and lanes, will use low emission vehicles.
  • The MetroWest project will improve existing rail provision across the sub-region, including the opening of new stations and increased frequency on local lines.
  • Large-scale investment in walking and cycling through the Cycle Ambition Fund which is creating new routes and improving existing infrastructure.
  • Working with the bus companies to reduce the pollution from older buses has led to a retrofit project to reduce emissions from 35 of the most polluting buses.
  • Ensuring the council fleet vehicles are modernised to reduce pollution by replacing out of date diesel vehicles. This being supported by a £7 million project to provide over 200 more public and business charging points across the city region. It will also enable people to buy new electric cars with confidence that they can charge them.
  • Increasing the proportion of electric pool cars available for council employees to use on city trips.
  • Changes to Taxi Licencing Policy to improve taxi fleet emissions.