Of all the public transportation companies, Egged and Dan’s vehicles are the biggest polluters, says the Environmental Protection Ministry, based on emissions figures for heavy vehicles in 2014. The ministry’s report covered 28 companies and organizations that employ a fleet of 100 or more vehicles. The report also found that the garbage trucks used in Tel Aviv cause more pollution than the garbage trucks in Jerusalem.
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The ministry’s figures showed that Egged and Dan buses pollute at least twice as much as the vehicles of other transportation companies. On average, an Egged bus emits 0.08 particulates per kilometer traveled, while a Kavim bus emits half that amount and a Metropolin bus emits just 0.02 particulates. Egged and Dan operate 2,722 and 1,296 buses respectively, while Kavim operates 1,065 and Metropolin 517.
The data also showed that the garbage trucks used by the Tel Aviv municipality pollute twice as much as the ones used in Jerusalem. Tel Aviv employs 118 heavy vehicles, primarily garbage trucks, and Jerusalem employs 141.
Heavy vehicles, most of which are powered by diesel engines, emit tiny particulates that can penetrate deep into the respiratory system. Three years ago, the World Health Organization stated that emissions from these engines had been proven to be carcinogenic. OECD figures show that about 2,500 people in Israel die every year from causes connected with transportation-related air pollution. This includes emissions from all types of vehicles.
An Environmental Protection Ministry directive says that, as of January 2018, emissions that exceed 0.03 particulates per kilometer traveled will be prohibited. The newest models of heavy vehicles already meet this target, but the fleets of the large public transportation companies do not. To do so they will have to employ pollution-reducing measures such as using natural gas or electric propulsion. Another possibility is to outfit the existing buses with particulate filters.
Egged points out that it is Israel’s oldest public transportation company and says that as such, it should not be compared to the younger bus companies, since the average amount of pollutants derives directly from the age of the buses. “Egged does not control the rate at which it acquires buses since the majority of the funding for this comes from the government, and its buses have a lifespan of 15 years.”
The company also notes that in other companies, the lifespan is set at eight years, in keeping with the tenders they won for operating their bus services.
Egged also says that “buses that do not meet the advanced standards are due to go out of service in the next two years, in tandem with a massive purchase of new and more advanced buses, and the operation of 2,000 brand-new and environment-friendly urban buses of the Euro 5 and Euro 6 models.” Some of these buses are already in operation.
The company also says that hundreds of filters will be added to reduce pollution. “These actions will immediately and significantly reduce the average emissions, as required by the Environmental Protection Ministry.”
Dan says that its buses operate in an area in which “travel efficiency” is low, and consequently, emissions are high. At the same time, Dan says that over the past decade, pollution from its old fleet of vehicles has been reduced by 75 percent.
“Every year, 8 percent of the fleet is upgraded,” a spokesperson for Dan said. “The company is the first to take on new models of vehicles and to also experiment with the latest propulsion methods that are at the forefront of technology, such as the hybrid vehicles that run on gas or electricity.”
The Tel Aviv municipality says it is working to upgrade its fleet of trucks, and that in the past year it acquired 10 garbage trucks of the Euro 6 standard and they are already in operation. “This year we have already planned for and budgeted the purchase of 11 more of these trucks. By the end of 2016, 70 percent of the fleet will meet the highest criteria in terms of air pollution. The city has a five-year plan for continuously renewing its fleet of trucks and is working to implement the Clean Air Law.”