Could trams be the answer to air quality concerns?

Poor air quality is one of the largest environmental risks to public health in the UK, with high Nitrogen Dioxide levels exacerbating pre-existing health conditions particularly for children and the elderly. In addition, the most deprived, often inner-city areas are bearing a disproportionate share of poor air quality.

As a result, an influential group – the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group – are calling on all political parties to address the issue of air quality in their manifestos. With the recent announcement of the General Election, political parties will be under pressure to defend and update their policies on such an important public health issue.

The APLRG have written to all the major political parties, highlighting the key role trams and light rail systems may have as a solution to having no air pollution at the point of use. TramForward, the campaigning arm of the Light Rail Transit Association, is also encouraging government, local authorities and the private sector to invest in trams for economic growth and improvements in air quality for public health, calling for a “Clean Air Act”. TramForward are further initiating funding trials to explore new funding models with a group of experts to demonstrate how effective economic management can achieve a positive return on investment and overcome funding gaps in tram system business models.

Trams are seen as exceptionally good value for taxpayers in addition to their environmental benefits. Further they reduce traffic congestion and have good consumer feedback. The APLRG and TramForward are hoping that all these factors will be taken under consideration by the major political parties and result in each party committing to making an improvement in air quality, preferably by exploring the possibility of investing in tram and light rail networks in towns and cities

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