Various studies in recent years have showed that London’s commuters could be exposed to dangerous levels of bacteria, particulate matter and nanodust particles on the underground system. In June, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched a new plan to improve air quality on the London Underground, including more testing, cleaning and better information for passengers.
London’s air pollution is one of the main challenges facing the capital and its inhabitants. At the start of this year, the pollution levels surpassed those found in Beijing, one of the most notoriously smoggy cities in the world. The first culprit that comes to mind is the exhaust fumes from the busy traffic – a problem that Khan promised to tackle by completely banning petrol and diesel vehicles in Greater London by 2040.
But public transport passengers are also exposed to high levels of noxious air substances, according to various studies and statistics that came to light over the course of this year. A better understanding of how dangerous the air passengers breathe in every day was urgently needed as Transport for London’s (TfL) own research into the composition of dust particles on the tube is over a decade old.
As a result, in June Khan instigated a new review of air pollution levels on the Tube, and introduced a series of measures to minimise dust levels on the Underground. The initiative is part of a wider-ranging undertaking across planning, housing, construction, transport and river services to tackle London’s dirty air. The Mayor and TfL have also more than doubled investment in tackling air quality to £875m over the next five years.
“Tube staff and the millions of passengers who use the Underground regularly deserve to breathe the cleanest air possible,” Khan said. “TfL’s new Underground air quality programme will help ensure dust and particles are kept to an absolute minimum.”